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The aim of the present edition of Coleridge's Biographia 
Literaria is to furnish an accurate reprint of the edition of 
1817, with such additional matter as may contribute to 
a fuller understanding of the text. For this purpose there 
have been appended, first, a reprint of Coleridge's strictly 
aesthetical writings ; secondly, notes elucidatory of the 
text ; and thirdly, an introductory essay dealing with 
Coleridge's theory of the imagination. 

The only annotated edition of the Biographia Literaria 
hitherto published is the second edition of 1847, edited by 
Coleridge's daughter and son-in-law, and now long out of 
print. The notes on the philosophical portion of the text 
in this edition are very exhaustive, and I have found them 
of great assistance in preparing my own ; but, as a whole, 
the edition does not meet the needs of the reader of to-day. 
My own aim has been to provide such a commentary on 
the text as will prove serviceable both to philosophical 
and to literary students ; and, above all, to furnish adequate 
references to pther oassages in Coleridge's published 
wri tmgs on the various topics dealt with in the text, and 

thi^g_Jv;i^i'llngtraf-f> fhp rr.nHnin>y rtf hi.c; npini ons. especiallv 

as ^ey regard the nature of art and the principles of 

It cannot, I think, be said that Coleridge's philosophyof 
art has ever received in England the consideration which 
it deserves. For this neglect many causes might be 

a 2 

iv Preface 

suggested : the chief of them are probably the languid 
interest which attaches to questions of aesthetic, and the 
prejudice existing with regard to all Coleridge's specula- 
tive writings, that they are dearly purchased at the expense 
of more poetry of the type of Christabel or The Ancient 
Mariner. This prejudice is an old one, and has received 
some countenance from Coleridge himself; but it is not 
confirmed by the facts of his Hfe, nor, if it were, would 
it justify the neglect of his actual production. 

Another reason is, perhaps, to be found in the frag- 
mentary nature of his aesthetic. This, again, is a defect 
which attaches to all Coleridge's speculations. But it 
must be remembered that the very qualities in his genius, 
to which his writings owe their vitality, were antagonistic 
to complete and systematic exposition. Coleridge was 
essentially a teacher, and conscious of a message to his 
age ; and his examination of principles was rarely directed 
by a purely speculative interest. The search for a criterion 
of poetry involved him in the wider search for a crite- 
rion of life. His theory of the imagination, upon which 
his whole art-philosophy hinges, was primarily the vindi- 
cation of a particular attitude to life and reality. This 
width of vision was fatal to his success as a specialist ; but 
while it vastly increases the general interest of his views, 
it by no means lessens their value for the artist and the 

It is this significance of the imagination, as Coleridge 
conceived it, which I have endeavoured, in the following 
introduction, to set forth and explain. In particular I have 
aimed at tracing the development of the conception in his 
mind, and at showing that it was a natural growth of his 
genius, fostered, as every growth must be, by such external 
influences as it found truly congenial. In this connexion 
it was impossible to ignore Coleridge's relation to German 
thought; and I have dealt at some length with his 

Preface v 

affinities to Kant and Schelling. But an investigation of 
the exact amount and nature of his debt to German con- 
temporaries would be a task of but doubtful value or 
success. Nothing, I believe, is more remarkable with 
regard to Coleridge than the comparatively early maturity 
of his ideas, or, as a less favourable judgement may inter- 
pret it, their too rapid crystalHzation. And it is least 
questionable whether the influence of German thought did 
not after a certain point tend more to arrest than to 
stimulate his mental growth. 

The student of Coleridge's position in his earHer hfe is 
placed at some disadvantage by the paucity of material on 
vvhich to depend. Until he was nearly tbrty ve ars of age, 
Coleridge gave no pubhc expression in writing to his 
criiicalor philosop hical vi ews. Of his eaflier lectures the 
remains are scanty in the extreme. We are therefore 
thrown back, for our sources of information, on the private 
correspondence of these years, the detached utterances of 
his notebooks, the poems, and the Biographia Literaria 
itself ; and even of this material a considerable portion is 
yet in manuscript. In avaihng myself of the pubHshed 
sources, I have endeavoured to base my conclusions on 
the evidence before me, and as far as possible to avoid 
giving currency to mere conjecture. 

My obHgations to past and present writers upon Cole- 
ridge, and editors of his writings, are too numerous to be 
recorded in detail here. In the notes and elsewhere I 
have endeavoured to give fuU references to my authorities, 
and these will provide the best evidence of my indebted- 
ness. But to those personal friends who have helped me 
with advice and criticism I should like to record my 
thanks, and in particular to my brother-in-Iaw Mr. Ernest 
de Selincourt, whose ripe knowledge of the period and 
sure critical insight I have found of the greatest service 
throughout, and especially so in dealing with the contro- 

vi Preface 

versy on poetic diction. It will hardly be necessary to 
add that for such errors as I have fallen into I am alone 
and entirely responsible. My acknowledgements are also 
due to the Trustees of Dr. WilHams^s Library for kindly 
allowing me to consult the manuscript of H. C. Robinson's 
Diaries ; while to the readers of the Clarendon Press I 
am indebted for much valuable assistance in the correction 
of proofs. 

The circumstances leading to the composition of the 
Biographia Literaria could not be fuUy dealt with in the 
Introduction itself without too marked a digression from 
the main theme. I have therefore made them the subject 
of a Supplementary Note, which will be tound appended 
to the Introduction. 




I. Early years . xi-xxvi 

II. Germany ....... xxvi-xxix 

'nil. Keswick: Coleridge and Kant . . . xxix-xlvi 

IV. Malta xlvi-xlvii 

V. Lectures and ' The Friend ' . . . . xlvii-liv 
VI. The ' Biographia Literaria' : Coleridge and 

Schelling liv-lxxvii 

VII. 'On Poesy or Art' .... Ixxvii-lxxxiii 
VIII. Later years ...... Ixxxiii-Ixxxix 



Chapter I. — The motives of the present work — Reception 
of the Author's first publication — The discipline of his 
taste at school — The effect of contemporary writers on 
youthful minds — BowIes's Sonnets — Comparison be- 
tween the Poets before and since Mr. Pope ... i 

Chapter II.- Supposed irritability of men of Genius — 
Brought to the test of facts — Causes and Occasions of 
the charge — Its Injustice 19 

Chapter III. — The Author's obligations to critics, and the 
probable occasion— Principles of modern criticism — 
Mr. Southey's works and character .... 34 

Chapter IV.-— The Lyrical Ballads with the preface — y 

Mr. Wordsworth's earlier poems of fancy and imagina- 
tion— The investigation of the distinction important to 
the fine arts 5° 

Chapter V. — On the law of association — Its history traced "^ 
from Aristotle to Hartley 5 




Chapter VI.— That Hartley's system, as far as it differs 
j/ from that of Aristotle, is neither tenable in theory, nor 

founded in facts 74 

Chapter VII. — Of the necessary consequences of the Hart- 

/ leian theory — Of the original mistake or equivocation 

^ which procured admission for the theory — Memoria 

technica 80 

Chapter VIII. — The system of DUALISM introduced by 
y Des Cartes — Refined first by Spinoza and afterwards 
by Leibnitz intothe doctrine of Harmoniapraestabilita — 
Hylozoism — Materialism — Neither of these systems, or 
any possible theory of association, supplies or supersedes 
a theory of perception, or explains the formation of the 
associable 88 

Chapter IX. — Is philosophy possible as a science, and 
what are its conditions ? — Giordano Bruno — Literary 
aristocracy, or the existence of a tacit compact among 
the leamed as a privileged order — The author's obliga- 

<^ tions to the Mystics — to Immanuel Kant — The difference 
between the letter and the spirit of Kant's writings, and 
avindication of prudence in theteachingofphilosophy — 
Fichte's attempt to complete the critical system — Its 
partial success and ultimate failure — Obligations to 
Schelling ; and among English writers to Saumarez . 93 

Chapter X. — A chapter of digression and anecdotes, as an 
interlude preceding that on the nature and genesis of 
the imagination or plastic power — On pedantry and 
pedantic expressions — Advice to young authors respect- 
ing publication — Various anecdotes of the author's lite- 
rarj' life, and the progress of his opinions in religion and y^ 
politics 107 

Chapter XI.— An affectionate exhortation to those who in 

early life feel themselves disposed to become authors . 152 



Chapter XII. — A chapter of requests and premonitions 
concerning the perusal or omission of the chapter that 
follows l6o 

Chapter XIII.— On the imagination, or esemplastic power 195 ^ 




Chapter XIV. — Occasion of the Lyrical Ballads, and the 
objects originally proposed— Preface to the second 
edition — The ensuing controversy, its causes and 
acrimony — Philosophic definitions of a poem and ^ 

poetry with scholia 5 

Chapter XV. — The specific symptoms of poetic power 

elucidated in a critical analysis of Shakespeare's Venus <^ 

and Adonis, ^Xid. Lucrece 13 

Chapter XVI. — Striking points of difiference between the 
Poets of the present age and those of the i^th and 
i6th centuries — Wish expressed for the union of the 
characteristic merits of both 20 

Chapter XVII. — Examination of the tenets peculiar to 

Mr. Wordsworth — Rustic life (above all, loiv and rustic ^ 

life) especially unfavorable to the formation of a human 
diction — The besi parts of language the product of 
philosophers, not of clowns or shepherds — Poetry 
essentially ideal and generic — The language of Milton 
as much the language of real life, yea, incomparably 
more so than that of the cottager 28 




Chapter XVIII. — Language of metrical composition, why 
and wherein essentially dififerent from that of prose — 
Origin and elements of metre — Its necessary conse- 
quences, and the conditions thereby imposed on the 
metrical writer in the choice of his diction . . 43 

Chapter XIX. — Continuation — Conceming the real object 
which, it is probable, Mr. Wordsworth had before him 
in his critical preface — Elucidation and application of 
this— The neutral style, or that common to Prose and 
Poetry, exemplified by specimens from Chaucer, Her- 
bert, &c 69 

Chapter XX. — The former subject continued . . . ^^ 

Chapter XXI. — Remarks on the present mode of con- 

ducting critical journals 85 

Chapter XXII.— The characteristic defects of Words- 
worth's poetry, with the principles from which the 
judgement, that they are defects, is deduced— Their 
proportion to the beauties — For the greatest part 
characteristic of his theory only 95 

Satyrane's Letters 132 

Chapter XXIII 180 

Chapter XXIV.— Conclusion 207 


vOn the Principles of Genial Criticism concern 
iNG the Fine Arts . 

Fragment of an Essay on Taste . 
Fragment of an Essay on Beauty 
v/ On Poesy or Art .... 
Notes to Vol. II 







1. Early Years, 

The autobiographical letters, which Coleridge addressed 
to his friend Thomas Poole/ and meant for no eye but his, 
have preserved for posterity an invaluable record of his 
early mental Hfe. They reveal to us the future transcen- 
dentalist in surroundings peculiarly fitted to nourish his 
congenital temper. A fretful, sensitive, and passionate 
child, Coleridge at all times shunned the companionship 
of his playmates, and substituted for their pastimes a 
world of his own creation. To this world, fashioned 
largely from the Arabian Nights, Robinson Crusoe, and 
other works of wonder and fantasy, he attached a Hveher 
faith than to the actual vvorld of his senses. And when 
his father discoursed to him of the stars, dwelling upon 
their magnitude and their wondrous motions, he heard 
the tale ' with a profound deHght and admiration ' but 
without the least impulse to question its veracity. ' My 
mind had been habituated to the t^fls^ and I never regarded sc* 

niy senses as the criteria of my beUef. I t ^gulated all my ^ ^?^.. 
'cree dg by my conceptions. not dv fn y sip-ht. even at thafM A 
a^' Nor dici tne nabit ol seli-detachment from the " O 
actual world, thus early acquired, make of Coleridge 
a mere day-dreamer, the slave of his fancies : it served, in 
his own opinion, an educational end of the highest value. 
' Should children,' he asks in the same letter, ' be per- 
mitted to read romances and relations of giants and magi- 

^ See Letters of S. T. Coleridge, edited by E. H. Coleridge, 
i. 4-21. 

xii Introduction 

-^ians and genii ? ' And he answers, ' I have formed my 

\faith in the affirmative. I know no other way of giving the 

j/ /"^^"'^ ^ lov^ of 'h^ Great and the Whole.' For those (he 

/ ( adds) who are educated through the senses 'seern to want a 

sense which I possess. . . . The universe to them is but 

1 a mass of httle things '} It is evident that the attitude of 

1 the empiricist, the avowed or actual self-surrender of the 

l mind to the disconnected impressions of sense, was foreign 

I to Coleridge from the first. 

' In his ninth year Coleridge migrated to Christ's Hospital : 
and here the same habit of self-abstraction from his visible 
surroundings enforced itself. In the first impulse of home- 
sickness, he was absorbed in memories of the scenes from 
which he was so early doomed to be parted for ever : then, 
as this yearning gradually abated, the passion for specula- 
tion took its place, and he made his first acquaintance with 
the philosophy of mysticism in the writings of the Neo- 
platonists.- But almost at the same tinie the world of 
phenomena claimed his attention. The arrival of his 
brother Luke in London to study at the London Hospital 
gave a new direction to his thoughts, and soon he was 
deep in all the medical literature on which he could lay 
his hands. Such reading, as we can readily understand, 
seemed to reveal to him a new interpretation of things, an 
interpretation which it was so difficult to bring into line 
with his idealistic speculations that it practically remained 
unaffected by them. Hence the transition to Voltaire was 
easy. 'After I had re2idWo\\.2L\v&'s Philosophical Dictionary, 
I sported infidel : but my infidel vanity never touched my 
heart.' ^ Thus early was he awakened to consciousness 
of that inward discord which it was the task of his life 

^ Letters, ib. p. i6. 

"^ See Lamb's Essay, ChyisVs Hospital Jive-and-thirty years 

^ Gillman's Li/e of Coleridge, p. 23. 

Introditction xiii ^p 

to explain and to resolve — the discord engendered by the / ^v 

opposing claims of the senses and intellect on the one 
hand, and of what he here chooses to call the heart on thej 

Meantime Coleridge's poetical faculty lay for a long time 
dormant ; for the contributions to Boyer's album were 
regarded by him as little more than mechanical exercises. 
Nor could any genuine inspiration be looked for without 
a previous quickening of his emotional life, sufficiently 
intense to call for the relief of self-expression. This 
needful stirring of the heart soon came, however, and from 
two sources, the poetry of Bowles, and his attachment to 
Mary Evans ; a juxtaposition which need not occasion a 
smile, if we remember that in Bowles's sonnets Coleridge 
found the first genuinely unconventional treatment of 
Nature, the first genuine stimulus to an understanding 
of her 'perpetual revelation '. 

With the exercise of his poetical powers came also the 
first attempts at an analysis of the nature of poetry. This 
interest he owed to the judicious training of Boyer, which 
had also a salutary eflfect on Coleridge's own artistic 
methods. From Boyer he learnt 'that poetry, even that 
of the loftiest, and, seemingly, that of the wildest odes, had 
a lo^ic of its own as severe as that of science and more 
^ difficult, because more subtle, more complex, and depen- 
^o dent on more fugitive causes '.^ A new and attractive field 
of inquiry was thus opened out to him : and in the last 
year of his school-life, and the early ones of his residence 
at Cambridge, he devoted much speculative energy 'to 
a solid foundation (of poetical criticism) on which perma- 
nently to ground my opinions, in the component faculties 
of the human mind itself, and their comparative dignity 
and importance '.^ These speculations, although they bore 

1 Biog. Lit. i. 4. 2 Ib. i. 14. 


^xvij /ntroducfton 

' an indistinct, yet stirring and working presentiment, that 
the products of the more reflective faculty partook of 
death ', and so enabled him ' to skirt, without crossing, the 
sandy deserts of unbelief'.* Hence it is that when, during 
the years of his retirement at Stowey ^ (the Pantisocratic 
enthusiasm now dead), he devoted his thoughts to *the 
foundations of religion and morals ', the doubts which 
assailed him were directed against the human intellect as 
an organ of final truths, not against those truths them- 
selves. ' I became convinced,' he writes, ' that the evidence 
of the doctrines of rehgion could not, like the truths of 
abstract science, be wholly independent of the will.' ' If 
the mere intellect could make no certain discovery of 
a holy and intelligent first cause, it might yet supply 
a demonstration that no legitimate argument could be 
drawn from the intellect against its truth.' ■ It is significant 
to note that in thus turning the intellect against itself, and 
causing it to assign bounds to the sphere of its own 
validity, Coleridge, still a stranger to Kant, is adopting 
the critical attitude. For Kant he is further preparing 
himself by his recognition of the importance of the Will, 
of self-activity, in the attainment of truth — the conviction 
that a moral aci is indispensable to bring us into contact 
with reaUty. This conviction, if he owed it partly to his 
training in idealism, was also forced upon him by expe- 
riences whose very strength was the testimony of their 
truth — the experiences of his religious, his moral, and also 
of his imaginative self, in all of which he was conscious 
that his will was not merely active, but in a sense even 

To the record of his mental state during this period 
contained in the Biographia Literaria may be added the 

1 Biog. Lit. i. 98. 

'^ Coleridge settled at Nether Stowey on Dec. 30, 1796. 

^ Biog. Lit. i. 135. 

Introdiidion xvii 

evidence of the poems vvhich belong to it. These of them- 
selves are sufficient to show us that his professed adherence 
to the necessitarian doctrines of his day was by no means 
the genuine conviction of his whole being. The Rcligious 
Musings, completed before his retirement to Stowey, 
breathe (in spite of their rhetoric and tentative meta- 
physics) a spirit of more settled faith than he was to know 
again for many a year. Not by any process of reasoning, 
but by a direct intuitional act, the poet feels himself 
brought into communion with a reaHty itself emotional, the 
'one omnipresent mind ' whose 'most holy name is Love '. 
To this Love the soul must be ' attracted and absorbed '. 

Till by exclusive consciousness of God 
AU self-annihilated, it shall make 
God its identity ! God all in all ! 

In later years Coleridge was to assign to this ' exclusive 
consciousness ' a distinct faculty of the soul : what concerns 
us here is that he regards the attainment of this highest 
consciousness as consequent upon an act, a vohtional 
effort, in which the finite mind is brought into direct 
contact with an infinite whose essence, as Love, is itself 
activity.* It is in this faith that he denounces the futile 
endeavours and the inevitable tendencies of a philosophy 
which seeks in physical manifestations a complete solution 
of the questionings of the soul — the attempts of those who 
(as he wrote in another poem of this period)'* 

^ Religioiis Musin^s, 11. 42-4. 

^ The Destiny o/ Na/ions, pub. 1797, 11. 27 ff. It seems not 
improbable that Coleridge, both in this poem and in the Religious 
Musings, has in mind (among a mixture of theories) the central 
notion of Boehme's philosophy, in which he anticipates Schel- 
ling— that of self-distinction as the essence of spiritual life. 
Cp. letter to Thelwall, Dec. 1796, ' I have rather made up my 
niind that I am a mere apparition, a naked spirit, and that life is, 
I myself I ' {Letters, i. 211). No doubt he was also influenced 
by the Hebrew conception of Deity. 


' xviii '': Introdudion 

Within this gross and visible sphere 
Chain down the winged thoughts, scoffing ascent, 
Proud in their meanness : and themselves they cheat 
With noisy emptiness of learned phrase, 
Their subtle fluids, impacts, essences, 

Untenanting creation of its God ; 

and his sense of the inadequacy, if not impiety, of all 
speculations of the intellect, the ' shapings of the unre- 
generate mind ', is expressed in a letter written at the end 
of 1796 to Benjamin Flower, 'I found no comfort till it 
pleased the unimaginable high and lofty one to make my 
heart more tender in regard of rehgious feeHngs. My 
metaphysical theories lay before me in the hour of anguish 
as toys by the bedside of a child deadly sick.' ^ 

But it was not through his religious, nor his moral 

feelings alone, that Coleridge received assurance of a 

/reality transcending that of the senses. This sensible 

/ world itself, impenetrable as its meaning remained to the 

/ mere ' sciential reason ', might yet, if viewed under another 

j / aspect and by another faculty, confirm the witness of 

y morality and religion. It is of this faculty that Coleridge 

f is thinking when, in the letter to Poole above quoted, he 

i remarks that those educated through the senses ' seem to 

want a sense which I possess. . . . The universe to 

them is but a mass of little things '. And with the same 

thought he writes to Thelwall in the autumn of 1797, 

' The universe itself, what but an immense heap of little 

\ things ? . . . My mind feels as if it ached to behold and 

I know something great, something one and indivisible. 

\ And it is only in the faith of that, that rocks or water- 

"^^IIs, mountains or caverns, give me the sense of sub- 

^ The same expression occurs in one of the manuscript note- 
books of this period. 



limity or majesty ! But in this faith all ihings counterfeit 
infinity ! ' ^ 

This sense or faculty, for which the finite object counter- 
feits or symbolizes the infinite, the material part embodies 
the immaterial whole, is a peculiar possession, a thing 
'which others want'. It is in fact, though Coleridge has 
not yet consciously defined it thus, the imaginative faculty, 
which, if allied with creative power, makes the poet — 
which is indeed in a sense creative, wherever it exists. 
But the imaginative interpretation of nature is not neces- 
sarily in all minds the same. It may lead to pantheism. 
With Coleridge this was impossible because, as we have 
seen, he placed the exclusive, transcendent consciousness 
of God above all other forms of consciousness. To him, 
therefore, the beautiful in nature was necessarily regarded 
as symbolic of a spiritual reality, but not coexistent with it, 
nor yet an essential medium to its fruition. It is at best 
a reflection by which we are aided to a deeper knowledge 
of the reality : for, as he writes, 

All that meets the bodily sense I deem 
Symbolical, one mighty alphabet 
To infant minds ; and we in this low world 
Placed with our backs to bright reality, 
That we might learn with young unwounded ken 
The substance from the shadow.^ 

Thus individual objects, which to the intellect appear 
merely as parts o/ an undiscoverable whole, are to the 
gaze of imaginative faith the symbol of that totality which 
is its object. Through the medium of phenomena spirit 
meets spirit ; but in that contact the symbol is forgotten, 

^ Letters, p. 228. It is interesting to compare Schelling^s 
words in the Transcendental Idealism (quoted on p. Ixviii.) that 
' every single work of art represents Infinity '. 

2 Destiny of Nations, 11. 17 ff. A similar figure is found in 
Goethe, Faust,Pt. II, First Monologue : ' So bleibe mir die Sonne 
stets im Riicken,' and ib., * Am farb'gen Abglanz haben wir das 

b 2 

XX Introduction 

the means is discarded in the attainment of the end ; or 
if it still abides in consciousness with the reality which it 
figures forth, yet its presence is secondary and subordinate. 
Such a spiritual experience does the poet prophesy for 
one who, with heart rightly attuned, 

Might lie on fern or withered heath, 
While from the singing lark (that sings unseen 
The minstrelsy that soHtude loves best) 
And from the sun, and from the breezy air, 
Sweet influences trembled o'er his frame : 
And he with many feelings, many thoughts, 
Made up a meditative joy, and found 
Religious meanings in the forms of nature : 
Till all his senses gradually wrapt 
In a half-sleep, he dreams of better worlds 
And dreaming hears thce still, O singing Lark, 
That singest like an angel in the cloudsl'^ 

The symbol is still present, but now only co-present with 
the direct consciousness of the ideal. 

The symbolic interpretation of nature, and the symboHc 
use of natural images, was thus a fact and an object of 
reflection to Coleridge, even before theperiod ofhissettle- 
ment at Stowey, but we have no evidence that he had before 
that date assigned a definite faculty to this sphere of mental 
activity, or named that faculty the imagination. Indeed, 
a letter to Thelwall, written immediately before the migra- 
tion to Stowey, seems to preclude such an hypothesis. In 
this letter he speaks of the imagery of the Scriptures as 
' the highest exercise of the fancy ' : yet it is this very 
imagery which at a later date, in comparing the fancy with 
imagination, he adduces as an example of the latter power. 
There can, however, be no doubt that the conception of 
beauty, as the revelation of spirit through matter, had 
been fostered in him many years before through the study 

' Fears in Solilude, 1798,11.17-27. The italics areofcourse 

Introduction xxi 

of Plato and the Neo-platonists : and his habit of psycho- 
logical research, influenced by the psychological methods 
of those days, must have urged him to assign to a definite 
faculty this particular mode of apprehending objects. But 
for the choice of the term imagination he had no warranty 
in the practice of Engh'sh philosophy : nor did its etymo- 
logy suggest such an appHcation. Further, it must be 
borne in mind that CoIeridge's speculations in the years 
previous to the closer intercourse with Wordsworth (which 
dates from the summer 0^1797) were as much concerned 
with rehgion and metaphysic as with aesthetic proper. 
Hence we cannot wonder if his analysis of the poetic facul- 
ties proved a long and difficult task. _ 

According to his own account in the Biographia Lite- 
raritty it was during the recital by Wordsworth of a 
certain poem ^ that Coleridge first awoke to the sense of 
a specific quality, which this poem exhibited in a marked 
degree. He was pecuHarly struck by its exhibition of ' the 
original gift of spreading the tone, the atmosphere, and 
with it the depth and height of the ideal world, around 
forms, incidents, and situations of which, for the common 
view, custom had bedimmed all the lustre, had dried up 
the sparkle and the dewdrops'.^ This quahty, to whose 
existence his attention was first drawn in a concrete 
example of it, Coleridge no sooner felt than he sought 
to understand. ' B-epeated meditations,' he adds, ' led me 
first to suspect (and a more intimate analysis of the human 
faculties, their appropriate marks, functions, and eflfects, 
matured my conjecture into fuU conviction) that fancy and 
imagination were two distinct and widely different faculties, 
instead of being, according to the general belief, either two 

^ See Biog. Lit. i. 58, and note. 

* Biog. Lit. \. p. 59. The definition belongs of course tu 
a later date. 



names with one meaning, or, at furthest, the lowest and 
highest degree of the same power.'^ 

If Coleridge's memory is to be trusted, the birth of this 
new conviction must be assigned to the year 1796, some 
eighteen months previous to the time of his real intimacy 
with Wordsworth. If the intervening period was devoted 
to this 'more intimate analysis of the human faculties', 
we may perhaps conclude that when their closer intercouise 
actually began, the distinction of fancy and imagination had 
been, to some extent, definitely formulated by Coleridge. 
Certainly it was his own behef that he, and not Words- 
worth or any other, was the originator of the distinction.'^ 
When once it was made, however, its fuller elaboration and 
application in the concrete would no doubt form a frequent 
subject of the daily discussions at Stowey and Alfoxden. 
But whereas (the Biogmphia Literaria is again our witness) 
Wordsworth's interest in the distinction regarded chiefly 
its manifestations in poetry, the object of Coleridge, both 
then and later, was ' to ipvpc;fif r;^tp th p seminal principle '. 
Of these two aspects of the matter, it sel 
the former only was actually discussed between them. For 
in their discussions they were guided by a practical rather 
than a speculative aim : by no less an aim, indeed, than 
the initiation of a genuine poetry. And the function of 
such a poetry as they conceived it was to add 'the 
interest of novelty ' to common appearances, not by arbi- 
trarily distorting them into the fashion of an unreal world, 
but by a treatment of them which, faithful in externals, 
should yet reveal their underlying significance. 

This mutual interpenetration of natural and super- 
natural was to be achieved in a twofold manner. To 
Coleridge was assigned the task of attaching a human 
interest to incidents and agents 'in part at least super- 

1 Biog. Lit. i. 60. ^ Ib. i. 63. 

Introduction xxiii 

natural ' ' by the dramatic truth of such emotions as would 
naturally accompany such situations supposing them 
real * ; ^ to Wordsworth that of ' directing the mind's 
attention to the loveliness and wonders of the world before 
us '. But both tasks demanded the exercise of one and 
the same facuhy. This faculty, whose ' modifyingcolours ' 
they compared to 'the sudden charm, which accidents 
of hght and shade, which moonhght or sunset diffused 
over a known and famihar landscape ', is none other than 
the imagination.^ 

The question here naturally suggests itself, to what 
extent the poems, writtcn in this first period of the poets' 
intimacy, represent the conscious appHcation of theories 
definitely formulated. It is indeed obvious that without 
the actual impulse to creation, the fullest insight into the 
nature of poetic activity could have helped them but Httle. 
Still, the conscious art of the poet must play its part in the 
most inspired creation, and he will undoubtedly profit by 
any knowledge which enables him better to direct the 
forces which he cannot evoke. In the present instance, 
however, our knowledge of the theoretical standpoint of 
the two poets at this time is too meagre to enable us to 
determine how far any of these poems is the conscious 
embodiment of this or that property of the imagination.^ 
But however this may be, we can at least be sure that their 
practice must have reacted on their subsequent theories. 
To Coleridge at least the moods of creative exaltation 
which produced the great poems of this period came as an 
entirely novel and unique experience ; and, if this experi- 
ence was destined never to be repeated, yet the memory 
of it must have lived on his mind, and formed not the least 
engrossing subject of his later speculations. 

The most frequent topic, however, of the Stowey days 

^ Biog. Lit. i. 64. ^ Ib. ii. 5, 6. 

' See Fenwick note to Litcy Cray {Lyrical Ballads, 1800). 

xxiv) Introdiiction 

was doubtless that which provided the main theme of 
Wordsworth's Preface to the Lyrical Ballads — his theory 
— of poetic diction. Of this preface Coleridge wrote in 1802, 
' It is half a child of my own brain, and arose out of con- 
versations so frequent, that, with few exceptions, we could 
scarcely either of us, perhaps, positively say which started 
any particular thought,' ' Now in the preface, whatever 
may be imphed, there is no definite allusion to the distinc- 
tion of fancy and imagination.^ This fact, taken in con- 
junction with the evidence of the Biographia Literaria, 
justifies the conclusion already drawn, that, while the 
distinction was acknowledged by both poets at the time of 
their first intimacy, it was Coleridge who was chiefly 
concerned with its elaboration. 
j It is not without purpose that so much stress has been 
■ laid upon the actual date of these speculations. Coleridge 
was now on the eve of his departure to Germany. As yet 
he was practically a stranger to German literature and 
thought. Certain of Schiller's dramas, the Oberon of 
Wieland, Voss' Luise, and a few other works, comprised 
the extent of his acquaintanceship. Kant was still 'the 
utterly unintelligible Emanuel Kant ' ^ : Lessing he only 
knew as a theologian. His conception, therefore, of the 
imaginative faculty, as it existed previous to his visit to 
Germany, must have been arrived at entirely independently 
of German influence. 

The surest way, perhaps, of grasping the significance of 
these investigations is to regard them as typical of Cole- 
ridge's whole mental and spiritual attitude at this time. 
From his poetry we have gathered how abhorrent to his 

* Letters, i. 386. 

^ The distinction is incidentally mentioned in a note to The 
Thorn {Lyrical Ballads, 1798), but the definition there given 
rather tends to show that the question had not been fully 
thought out by Wordsworth. 

^ Letters, i. 203 n. 



deeper self were the doctrines to which he felt himself 
intellectually committed. Hartley's theory of knowledge 
(according to which the mind is the mere theatre, or at best 
the passive spectator, of mechanical processes whose 
results it somehow comes to regard as its own free acts), if 
not definitely abandoned by Coleridge before his departure 
for Germany, was yet doomed in his better judgement, To 
a mind aching to behold ' something one and indivisible ' 
this philosophy, which regards the soul and the universe 
as a mere conglomeration of particulars, and ' never sees 
a whole ', could not fail, sooner or later, to stand revealed 
in all its bareness. 

It is not improbable that Coleridge, who in his ceaseless# ^ -v- 
researches into the mind's workings was guided by this l ^ 

doctrine of association, should have arrived by this clue at 
a definite conception of that mode of associating objects 
(subjectively necessary, but objectively arbitrary and con- 
tingent) to which he was to assign the name of fancy. 
And as long as the theory of association was accepted by 
him as applicable to the whole range of mental experience, 
so long would fancy appear an adequate designation for 
the highest forms of poetic activity. But when Words- 
worth's poem was read to him, and he awoke to a sense 
of its peculiar excellence, Coleridge found himself in 
the presence of a power and activity which could by no 
means be adjusted to Hartley's scheme, a mode of appre- 
hension * not dreaml of in his philosophy'. For here the 
mind appeared as no mere passive recipient of external 
impressions, at the mercy of its own contingent and partial 
experience, but as endowed with an active and creative 
perception of the reality underlying experience, an insight 
independent of that experience and inherent in its own 
nature. Thus to Coleridge, however little explicitly or 
consciously, the distinction between the imagination and 
the fancy presented itself as the distinction of tvvo types of 



xxvi Introdiiction 

philosophy : even as for Wordsworth it might symbolize 
the distinction of two kinds of poetry, the poetry of nature 
and of artifice. But in the facts themselves, in the expe- 
riences which set them thinking, their diverse points of 
view found a common ground. And of these facts the 
most saUent were nature's immutable appeal to man and 
man's ever-varying response to nature. ' My own con- 
clusions on the subject/ says Coleridge, 'were made more 
lucid by Mr. Wordsworth by many happy instances drawn 
from the operation of natural objects on the mind.'^ From 
the cast or state of mind, to which such objects make no 
appeal except as mere objects of experience,^ through the 
intermediate stage in which they move us by the suggestion 
of incidental resemblances, up to the highest mode of their 
operation, in which they take the impressof human emotion 
and thought — for the due appreciation of these diverse 
attitudes of the mind to nature Coleridge was indebted to 
Wordsworth and Wordsworth's sister, whose eye was ever 
* watchful in minutest observance of nature '. The various 
problems thus forced upon his mind contributed to heighten 
the general state of spiritual unrest which possessed him 
on the eve of his departure for Germany. But for a while 
at least he was able to forget his speculations in the 
distraction of foreign travel. 

II. Germany. 

'Our object,' wrote Wordsworth of the projected visit to 
Germany, ' is to furnish ourselves with a tolerable stock of 
information in natural science.' But Coleridge anticipated 
something more valuable. ' A more thorough revolution 
(he tells us) ^ in my philosophical principles, and a deeper 

* Biog. Lit. i. 64. 

* A primrose by a river's brim 
A yellow primrose was to him, 

And it was nothing more. —Peier Bell, Pt. I. 
' Biog. Lit. i. 137. 

Introduction xxvii 

insight into my heart, were still vvanting ' ; and it was 
doubtless the sense of these deficiencies which turned his 
thoughts to Germany. In August 1798 he writes to 
Poole, ' I look upon the reahzation of the German scheme 
as of great importance to my intellectual activity, and, of 
course, to my moral happiness.' Whether or not it is toj 
be regretted that Coleridge should ever have becoma 
acquainted with German philosophy, is matter of opinion :1 
but it seems at least necessary to msist upon two important 
facts in connexion with this supposed crisis in his mental 
hfe. The first is, that he was a metaphysician long before 
he studied the German philosophers ; and the second, that 
it was in obedience to, and not in defiance of, his better 
instincts that he first devoted himself to that study. The first 
outcome, however, of his sojourn in Germany was a more 
or less entire abandonment of his speculations. ' Instead 
of troubling others with my own crude notions ... I was 
thenceforward better employed in attempting to store my " 
own head with the wisdom of others.' His earHest efforts, 
' after acquiring a tolerable sufficiency in the German lan- 
guage,' were directed towards a grounded knowledge of 
German philology and literature. For this purpose he 
studied carefully the elder writers of the language, and 
their successors up to the period of Lessing. To his actual 
contemporaries Coleridge seems to have devoted less 
attention. Goethe, now nearing the height of his fame, was 
practically neglected by him : even for Schiller his enthu- 
siasm must have been on the wane, for his subsequent 
translation of Wallenstein, as he himself was careful to 
point out, by no means implied an admiration of this or 
any other product of the German drama. Lessing's genius, 
however, Coleridge at once recognized ; and he was so far 
impressed by it that he conceived, and for some time prose- 
cuted with all earnestness, the plan of a biography of the 
great critic. For this purpose he made an extensive 

xxviii Introdnction 

collection of material and imbibed the spirit of Lessing's 
critical doctrines. To these doctrines Coleridge's own 
obligation has — especially as regards Shakespeare — in all 
probability been overestimated, at least in Lessing's own 
country. It cannot indeed be doubted that both as a mental 
discipline and as a training in critical method, the study of 
Lessing was of the highest value to Coleridge. To some 
extent Lessing may be said to have carried on the work 
which Boyer had begun. But all that Coleridge had to 
learn from Lessing was quickly learnt ; and the abandon- 
ment of the projected Hfe was probably not more due to 
vacillation of purpose than to his loss of interest in the 
subject itself. 

Although during his residence in Germany Coleridge 
was chiefly occupied in the accumulation of material for 
future use, his mind was not, even then, wholly unexercised 
in original thought. Indeed, his later letters home show 
that he could rarely hold himself for long from speculation 
on his favourite topics. Discussions, too, there were no 
doubt in plenty. In Gottingen Coleridge argued with the 
rationalizing Eichorn on Christian evidences, until the 
latter * dreaded his arguments and his presence ' ; and his 
friends in Germany * lamented the too abstruse nature ot 
his ordinary speculations '. But as yet, although visions 
of a magnum opiis were already floating before his mind, 
he postponed deliberately any attempt to systematize his 
theories. At the end of his visit he writes to Josiah 
Wedgwood, ' I shall have bought thirty pounds worth of 
books, chiefly metaphysics, and with a view to the one 
work to which I hope to dedicate in silence the prime of 
my life.' These books were dispatched to England, to be 
there perused as opportunity allowed. And the opportunity 
did not come at once. With the works of the German 
philosophers, according to the Biographia Literaria, 
Coleridge * for the greater part became familiar at a far 


later period.' ^ Even of Kant no regular study was as 
yet undertaken. The actual fruits of the visit to Germany 
were a command of the language and an acquaintance with 
the nation's genius in its language and literature. 

III. Keswick. 
Coleridge left Germany in July, 1799. Almost exactly 
a year later he entered his new home at Keswick and 
resumed his intimacy with Wordsworth. During the 
intervening year two tasks had absorbed his energies — 
the poHtical contributions to the Morning Post and the 
translation of Wallenstein. This latter work he describes 
as a ' soul-wearying labour', and to it in after years he 
ascribed his inability to finish Christabel. Whatever the 
cause may have been, the vein of poetry which flowed so 
abundantly at Stowey had now almost run dry. For a 
long time the efforts to resume Christabel proved fruitless, 
and when at length the impulse came, it was inadequate to 
the completion of the poem. To this inertness of the 
poetic faculty was joined a strange indifference to the 
beauties of nature. In a letter to Josiah Wedgwood ^. 

(written during a visit to London in 1801) he complains \;^'^ ' 

of 'a total inability to associate any but the most languid| 'X^^ ,^ 
feelings with the GodUke objects' which had lately sur- \ 
rounded him : and the mood which he here chronicles was 
of frequent occurrence. The same causes (the chief among 
them being, doubtless, ill-health and growing domestic 
discord) which clouded his imagination, drove him to con- 
centrate his whole energies on philosophy. His first task 
was to reconsider thoroughly his own speculative stand- 
point : and the result, a definite abandonment of empiri- 
cism, whether sceptical or dogmatic. In a series of letters 
to the same friend (written early in the year 1801) he 
criticizes severely the philosophy of Locke ; and in March 

^ Biog. Lit. i. 141. 


of the same year he writes to Poole, ' I have not only 
— entirely extricated the notions of time and space, but 
have overthrown the doctrine of association, as taught by 
Hartley, and with it all the irrehgious metaphysics of 
modern infidels — especially the doctrine of necessity.' ' 
Coleridge's final abandonment of Hartley's system has 
been attributed to the influence of Kant ; ^ but this letter, 
written as it was when Coleridge was only beginning his 
serious study of Kant, forbids such a conclusion. It is 
probable indeed that the conviction which it records had 
been long maturing in his mind.^ Even before he left 
England there had dawned upon him, as we have seen, 
a certain ' guiding light ', in his growing sense of the 
— " limitations of the unaided intellect. To this ever deepening 
insight, the systems of the intellect had themselves con- 
tributed, through their evident contradiction of his own 
experience. For in that experience he had been made 
conscious that the most genuine apprehension of reality is 
of the nature of a direct intuitional act, to which thought 
^ and emotion are alike indispensable, in which they are 
indeed inseparably blended. And this consciousness had 
grown clearer as the years advanced. ' My opinion is,' he 
writes in March of this year, *that deep thinking is attain- 
able only by a man of deep feeling ; and that all truth is 
a species of Revelation.' Hence his distrust, now definitely 
formulated, of any system which ignores the essential 

^ Letters, i. 348. 

"^ See Note to Letters, i. 351, Leslie Stephen grounds his 
conclusion on the (unprinted) letters to Josiah Wedgwood, in 
which Coleridge ' still sticks to Hartley and the Association 
doctrine '. Apparently, then, Coleridge's final emancipation 
was the result of that spell of ' most intense study ' during the 
early days of March (Letters, i. 348). 

^ As early as 1796, he had publicly expressed his sense ot 
the inadequacy of the 'mechanical philosophy '. See foot-note 
to lines contributed to Southey's /ort« of Arc (quoted in Cottle's 
Early Recollections o/ S. T. Coleridge, ii. 242}. 

Introdudion xxxi 

activity of the mind in experience. 'Newton' (to quote 
from the same letter) 'was a mere materiaHst. Mind inl i 

his system is always passive — a lazy looker-on at an l J^ 
external world, If the mind be not passive, if it be indeed *)^ ^^ 
made in God's image, and that too in the subhmest sense / /T\"^ 
the image of the Creator, there is ground for suspicion/ "^ ^l^ 
that any system built on the passiveness of the mind must/ C^ -^ 
be false as a system.' ^ Thus Coleridge, largely if nol| r ^ 
entirely by the force of independent thinking, has reachea 
a mental attitude in sympathy with the critical philosophy 
and its developments. 

Coleridge's speculations in these years produced no 
direct fruit in pubHshed writings, but their scope and 
character is indicated in his correspondence. The most 
arduous seem to have been concerned with the nature 
of poetry. His project, mentioned to Davy in 1801, of 
writing ' an essay concerning Poetry, and the pleasures to 
be derived from it, which would supersede all the books 
of morals, and all the books of metaphysics too ', reveals 
the importance attached by him to the fact of poetic 
inspiration as. a datum of philosophy. The subject- 
matter of the essay is defined as 'the affinities of the 
feeHngs with words and ideas'.^ And again, 'my most) 
serious occupation is a metaphysical investigation of thel 
laws by which our feeHngs form affinities with each otherl 
and with words.' 

Of these investigdtions the results may be found scattered 
here and there throughout his writing; they were never 
sufficiently unified to be embodied in a single system. Not 
the least engrossing of them (to judge by the direction of his 
thoughts at this time, and the fact of his constant inter- 
course with Wordsworth) must have been the distinction 
of fancy and imagination. This, which had originaHy 

^ Letters, i. 353. ^ Ib. i. 347. 

xxxii Introduction 

suggested itself as a distinction of poetic qualities, must 
by this time have come to have a deeper meaning for 
Coleridge. Hisgrowing conviction that insight into truth 

r is essentially dependent upon the will and the emotions 
which mould the will, and are themselves moulded by it, 
would here find a ready application. For whereas the 
activity of fancy is practically independent of the artist's 
emotional state, it is only under the stress of emotion that 

I the imagination can exercise its interpretative power. 

Of Coleridge's speculations at this time, however, any 
account must of necessity be incomplete, dependent as it is 
on the detached utterances of poems and letters. From 
a pubHc expression of his views he was withheld no less 
by difRdence than by lack of initiative. * I solemnly assure 
you,' he writes of these meditations to Poole^, 'that you 
and Wordsworth are the only men on earth to whom 
I would have uttered a word on this subject.' To this 
method of self-communication one advantage at least 
attaches — that not the opinions only, but the experiences 
from which they sprang, are revealed as otherwise they 

! could not be. And of Coleridge we learn that his deepest 
/)l j philosophy was drawn not from the speculations of other 
' I men, but from the teaching of life, the inevitable con- 
clusions forced on him by his own experience, bodily, 
mental, and spiritual, in his intercourse with men and in 
the companionship of Nature. It was from his own deep 
craving for love, as the one condition of real living, that he 
won his conviction of the vivifying power of emotion — a 
conviction soon extended beyond the sphere of personal 
relations. ' Life,' he writes to T. Wedgwood, ' is Hmitless 
sensation ' : (and the context shows us that the word is 
used in no merely physiological sense) . . . ' Feelings die 
by flowing into the mould of the intellect, becoming ideas.' 

' Lctters^ i. 352. 



Hence the inadequacy of the theory of mechanical associa- 
tion. * How flat, how wretched,' he writes to Southey in 
1803, 'is^artley's solution of thephenomena(of memory). 
Beheve me, Southey, a metaphysical solution that does 
not tell you something in the heart is grievously to be 
suspected as apocryphal. I almost think that ideas never 
recall ideas, as far as they are ideas, any more than leaves 
in a forest create each other's motion— the breeze it is that 
runs through them — it is the soul, the state of feeling.' * 

By the word ' idea ' in this passage Coleridge evidently 
understands not merely general notions, but any form of 
mental image or impression. And in this detachment 
of the ideas from all participation of feehng, and conse- 
quent solution of the principle of their coherence, he sees 
the work of the abstracting intellect, which seeks to 
construct from this congeries of detached particulars an 
organic experience, but in fact creates merely a world 
of lifeless forms, unconnected and devoid of motive power. 
Such a world is, indeed, a ' work of fancy ' ; but it is fancy 
exercised unconsciously and unwillingl}'. And as to these 
fantastic deliverances of the mere ' dry intellect ' Cole- 
ridge opposed that fuller insight of heart and mind which 
alone could be fruitful of a true philosophy, so in the 
region of artistic creation he contrasted the cold and arbi- 
trary combinations of fancy with the 'living educts ' of the 
imagination. Of this contrast a striking illustration is 
given in a letter to Sotheby (September, 1802), where 
Coleridge compares the Greeks with the Hebrews in their 
idealization of nature. 'To the Greeks,' he writes, 'all 
natural objects were dead, mere hollow statues : but there 
was a goddess or goddessling included in each. In the 
Hebrew poetry you find none of this poor stufF, as poor in 
genuine imagination as it is mean in intellect. At best 



' Letters, i. 428. 

xxxiv Introduction 

it is but fancy or the aggregating faculty of the mind, not 
imagination, or the modifying and coadunating faculty. 
This the Hebrevv poets appear to me to have possessed 
above all others, and next to them the EngHsh. In the 
Hebrev\^ poets, each thing has a hfe of its own, and yet 
they are all our life. In God they live and move and have 
their being : not had, as the cold system of Newtonian 
theology represents, but have.'' ^ 

In this projection of his inmost being into the forms and 
appearances of nature lies, according to Coleridge, the 
secret of the poet's insight. ' A poet's heart and intellect 
should be combined, intimately combined and unified with 
the great appearances of nature ' (so we read in the same 
letter). And the condition of such union is passion in the 
poet — where by passion is understood not mere undeter- 
mined feehng, but the deepest stirring of the whole nature, 
emotion tempered by thought, thought vitaHzed byemotion. 
And Coleridge goes on to say that Bowles (his now faHen 
'has no native passion. because he is not a thjpker '. 

/ And 
^/ idol) 

^ that they, 


For it is the characteristic of poetic feeHngs 

Like the flexuous boughs 
Of mighty oaks, yield homage to the gale, 
Toss in the strong winds, drive before the gust, 
Themselves one giddy storm of fluttering leaves ; 
Yet aU the while, self-Hmited, remain 
EquaHy near the fixed and parent trunk 
Of truth in nature— in the howHng blast 
^ As in the calm that stiHs the aspen grove.^ 

Thus the activity of the imagination depends on an 
inherent relationship between nature and the human soul, 
a relationship apprehended by a vision at once emotional 
and inteHectual. But this insight is granted to a fewonly : 
to the mass of humanity nature stiU remains the ' inanimate 

^ Letters, i. 405. 

* From poem addressed 'to M. Betham, from a stranger'. 
Letters, ib. 

Introduction xxxv 

cold vvorld '. What, then, are the preconditions in subject 
and object of that insight ? 

In spite of his intense love of nature and joy in her 
('a joy which I think no cares nor pains could eat out of 
my soul '), Coleridge is never, even in the time of his 
warmest enthusiasm, in danger of nature-worship : his 
idealization is far removed from idohzation. From this he 
was withheld by the faith which had now grown a necessity 
of his spiritual life, the faith in a supreme Being with 
whom a direct personal communion was possible.^ Nature, 
therefore, though proceeding from a common spiritual 
source, is subordinate in dignity to the human soul. In 
interpreting her beauty, man is not prostrating himself 
before an outward glory, but reading the symbols of his 
inner life, presented by virtue of the mysterious analogy of 
matter and spirit in the forms of a sensible world. This 
world has a double significance : as real, it tells of itself 
alone, but as ideal, it mirrors forth our manifold spiritual 
experience. Yet these ideal meanings are not arbitrarily 
imposed by the fancy of man : they exist already, they are 
but waiting to be read. 

But to the possibility of their interpretation there are, 
on the side of the subject, limiting conditions. To the 
majority of mankind the actual remains always actual, 
objects are nothing but objects : the meagreness of an 
emotional life exhausted in transient and particular interests 
provides no key to the symbolic aspects of nature. And 
even where such insight exists, it is in constant danger of 

^ Not that the supreme Being was conceived by him as a 
Personinthe sense in which the Unitarians then conceived ihe 
Deity— ' a distinct Jehovah tricked out in the anthropomorphic 
attributes of time and successive thoughts ' (Letter to Estlin, Dec. 
1802). It is probably in repudiation of this conception that 
Coleridge writes to M. Coates (Dec. 1803) thatthearticle offaith 
' nearest to his heart ' is ' the absolute impersonality of the 
Deity '. Letiers, i. 444. 

c 2 

xxxvi Introduction 

being thwarted and enfeebled, if not wholly destroyed. 
For all influences which chain the mind in the prison-house 
of actuality (such are the cares of the world, physical 
ill-being, and the tyranny of the senses) deprive the 
imagination of its motive power, and render it, even in 
the presence of surroundings the most stimulative, wholly 
passive and impotent. 

For attributing these or kindred views to Coleridge the 
weightiest evidence lies perhaps in the most characteristic 
poem of this period, the 'Dejection/ which was written in 
April of the year 1802. In this poem (in which, as in not 
many of Coleridge's, the lyric and the philosophic note is 
blended with consummate art) Coleridge laments his own 
experience and finds in it the type of a great spiritual 
truth. He feels that he has lost his 'shaping spirit of 
Imagination ', and that henceforth he must be content 
with the prose of life, the investigation of the actual and 
the natural, considered strictly as such. For the spiritual 
in himself, if it be not dead, is yet lost to consciousness, 
and without it he lacks the key to the spiritual in nature.' 
To such a pass has he been brought by the deadening 
force of private affliction, ill-health and other materiaHzing 
influences,'' all which, if not explicitly referred to in the 
personal lament, are yet implied in the reflections with 
which it is entwined : — 

There was a time, when, tho' my path was rough, 
The youth within me dallied with distress, 

^ Cp. letter to Godwin of March 1801, ' The poet is dead in me. 
My imagination . . . lies like the cold snuflf on the circular rim 
of a candlestick' ; — and to Southey, ' All my poetic genius . . . is 
gone,' July 1802. Letters, i. 388. 

'^ See Letters, i. 388, where he attributes his 'exceedingly 
severe metaphysical speculations . . . partly to ill health, and 
partly to private afflictions ' : and Allsopp, Letters and Conversa- 
tions of S. T. Coleridge, ii. 136, ' My eloquence was most 
commonly exerted by the desire of running away and hiding 
myself from my personal feelings.' 



And all misfortunes seemed but as the stufif, 

Whence Fancy made me dreams of happiness. 

For Hope grew round me like the climbing vine, 

And fruits and foliage, not my own, seemed mine. 

But now afflictions bow me to the earth : 

Nor care I that they rob me of my mirth : 

But O ! each visitation 

Suspends what Nature gave me at my birth, 

My shaping spirit of Imagination ! 

For not to think of what 1 needs must feel, 

But to be still and patient, all I can, 

And haply by abstruse research to steal 

From my own nature all the natural man, 

This was my sole resource, my only plan : 

Till that which suits a part infects the whole, 

And now is almost grown the habit of my soul. 

In nothing does this loss of imaginative power exhibit 
itself more clearly than in the languor of his feelings in 
face of the beauties of nature. Even as he writes, he is 
gazing with indifference at the glories of the sunset : — 

And still I gaze — and with how blank an eye ! 
And those thin clouds above, in flakes and bars, 
That give away their motion to the stars : 
Those stars that glide behind them and between, 
Now sparkling, now bedimmed, but always seen ! 
Yon crescent moon, as fixed as if it grew 
In its own cloudless star-less lake of blue, 
A boat becalmed, thy own sweet sky-canoe ! » 

I see them all, how excellently fair ! 1 

I see, not feel, how beautiful they are. * 

And the cause of this apathy, as he feels, lies within him- 
self — it springs from his own ' wan and heartless mood ' : — 

My genial spirits fail : 

And what can these avail 
To lift the smothering weight from ofT my breast ? 

It were a vain endeavour 

That I should gaze for ever 
On that green light that lingers in the west : 
I may not hope from outward forms to win 
The passion and the life, whose fountains are within. 

xxxviii Introdudion 

To his contemplative mood this mournful experience 
appears as emblematic of a profound truth. Nature 
reflects, but cannot determine, the emotional life : she 
but echoes the voice of the heart, and when the heart is 
untouched she too will remain mute : — 

O Wordsworth, we receive but what we give, 
And in our life alone doth Nature live ! ^ 
Ours is her wedding-garment, ours her shroud ! 
And would we ought behold of higher worth 
Than that inanimate cold world allowed 
To the poor loveless ever-anxious crowd, 
Ah ! from the soul itself must issue forth 
A light, a glory, a fair luminous cloud 

Enveloping the earth ! 
And from the soul itself thus must be sent 
A sweet and powerful voice, of its own birth, 
Of all sweet sounds the Hfe and element ! 

What then is the precondition of this activity of the 
imagiuation, of that gift of insight which is so sparingly 
bestowed ? To this question, too, his own experience 
suppHes the answer: — 

O pure in heart, thou need'st not ask of me 
What this strong music in the soul may be 
What and wherein it doth exist, 
This light, this glory, this fair luminous mist, 
This beautiful and beauty-making Power ? 
Joy, blameless Poet ! Joy, that ne'er was given 
Save to the pure, and in their purest hour, 

But this joy, which is indispensable to the perception of 

^ Cp. the lines written at Elbingerode in 1799 : — 

I had found 
That grandest scenes have but imperfect charms 
Where the eye vainly wanders, nor beholds 
One spot with which the heart associates 
Holy remembrances of child or friend, &c. 
In these lines Coleridge is still an associationist. See the 
' Essays on the Principles of Genial Criticism,' Biog. Lit. vol. ii, 
for his refutation of this theory of our delight in natural fornis. 



beauty, must not be confounded with the gaiety of tran- 
sient moods. The sorrowful mood, as well as the 
cheerful, may find a response in nature. The joy which 
Coleridge speaks of is rather the permanent serenity 
underlying the changing affections of a soul which 
has either resolved, or has never known, the strife of 
opposing elements.' This inv/ard harmony of sense and 
spirit reflects itself in the outward forms of nature ; but 
that harmony once lost, the vision which was its symbol 
also disappears ; or, if it persist, it is now dissevered from 
the emotion which first engendered it. Thus only those 
who have both felt and seen the beauty of nature, may 
afterwards see yet not feel it ; to the ' poor loveless, ever- 
anxious crowd,' even the sight of it is for ever denied. 

In the apprehension of beauty, therefore, the soul pro- 
jects itself into the outward forms of nature, and invests 
them with its own life. But it would be an unjustifiable 
conclusion that beauty is, in CoIeridge's opinion, wholly 
subjective, an arbitrary creation of the mind. This 
' beautiful and beauty-making power ' is not, in its choice 
of symbols, entirely free. It is confined to specific forms 
for the expression of a specific ideal content. And thus 
arises the question : what is the ground of this sympathy 
between the natural symbol and the interpretative mind ? 

To this question one answer inevitably suggests itself. 
The symbol, and the mind that interprets it, must partake 
in a common spiritual life. The imaginative interpretation 
of nature is a heightened consciousness, though still only 
a mediate consciousness of the presence of that life. It is 

* Cp. Gillman's Life, p. 178, ' Happiness— the state of that 
person who in order to enjoy his nature in the highest mani- 
lestation of conscious feeling, has no need of doing wrong, and 
who in order to do right, is under no necessity of abstaining from 
judgment.' This is also Schiller's definition of the ' schone 
Seele '. In 1804 Coleridge wrote, 'I know not— I have for- 
gotten— what the joy is of which the heart is full.' 

xl Introduction 

to such a spiritual experience that the passage from the 
' Lines before Sunrise ' gives expression (lines inspired, 
as Coleridge affirmed, by the solemnity of the Scafell 
scenery) : — 

dread and silent mount ! I gazed upon thee, 
Till thou still present to the bodily sense 

Didst vanish from my thought: entranced in prayer 

1 worshipped the Invisible alone. 

Yet, like some sweet beguiling melody, 
So sweet, we knew not we were listening to it, 
Thou the meantime wert blending with my thought, 
Ay, with my life and Iife's own secret joy.^ 

Here we have recorded the same process of ascent through 
the symbol to the symbolized reality, to which the poems 
of an earlier period bear witness. But Coleridge does not 
conceive of the imagination as establishing our knowledge 
of that reality ; it only illuminates a knowledge already 
gained, and gained, as we shall see, through other channels 
and in other ways. 

The relationship of the symbol to the object which 
it symbolizes may, indeed, be variously conceived. It 
may have only the subjective validity of a purely acci- 
dental association, which points to nothing deeper : this 
is the symbolism of the fancy. Or the relationship 
may be objective indeed, but yet mechanical and ex- 
ternal — the thing created standing for the creator : this 
is the symbolism of the intellect. Finally, the symbol, 
while remaining distinct from the thing symbolized, is yet 
in some mysterious way interpenetrated by its being, and 
partakes of its reality. Such symbolism is the work of 
imagination, and an example of it is found in the poetry 
of the Hebrews, in which 'all objects have a life of their 
own, and yet partake of our life. In God . . . they have 
their being '. And the capacity for such interpretation of 

^ Written Sept. 1802. The poem is an adaptation of Frederika 
Brun's ' Hymn on Mt. Blanc ', but it is none the less original. 

Introductwn xli 

nature resides not merely in our whole self, emotional and 
intellectual, but is dependent on a right condition of that 
self, and is thus the outcome and expression of a will 
rationally determined — the reason in nature responding 
to the reason in man. 

If the attempt to gather from CoIeridge's poems and 
correspondence of these years a definite idea of his mental 
attitude has seemed unnecessarily prolix, some excuse 
may be found in the especial interest which attaches to 
this period of his life, as that of his first introduction to 
German Philosophy — or rather, to one German philosopher 
in particular. It was early in the year 1801 that the in- 
tellect of Kant first took hold of him, as he significantly 
expresses it, with ' giant hands '. To Kant his obligations 
(as he was never tired of asserting) were far greater than 
to any other of Kant's countrymen : to him alone could 
he be said to assume in any degree the attitude of pupil 
to master. Yet even to Kant his debt on the whole seems 
to have been more formal than material — to have resided 
rather in the scientific statement of convictions previously 
attained than in the acquisition of new truths. It was im- 
possible, indeed, that Coleridge should acquiesce in the 
reservations of the critical philosophy. To charge Kant with 
insincerity in their regard (as in the Biographia Liieraria 
he does) was no doubt a wide misapprehension : yet it 
shows how difficult it was for Coleridge to understand 
why Kant drew his"Hne where he chose to draw it, and 
how little Coleridge was himself prepared to accept such 
a limitation. 

In nothing does this appear more clearly than in the 
distinction of Reason and Understanding. This distinc- 
tion, as elaborated by Kant, must have been hailed by 
Coleridge with especial joy ; for it gave a rational basis to 
a presentiment of much earlier date. From the mystics 
Coleridge had learned that 'the products of the mere — 


diu Introductwn 

reflective faculty partook of death ' ; ^ and this, in effect, is 
-^ K ' what Kant says in the Critique of Piire Rcason. But he 
\^^\ was far from committing himself to Kant's system as 
y/^ a whole. That the intellect was competent to deal with 
phenomena only, and with these as merely interconnected 
parts of a whole never realized, — this view would meet 
with ready assent from Coleridge, conscious as he was that 
to the eyes of the majority of mankind the universe 
appeared ' merely a mass of Httle things ' ; but when Kant 
spoke of the phenomenal world, with which alone the 
understanding is concerned, as an aHen material whose 
ultimate source is impenetrable to any function of con- 
sciousness, Coleridge must have withheld his assent. The 
divorce of subject and object, spirit and nature (even in 
the modified sense that we can have no absolute assurance 
of their unity), could not but appear to him a contradiction 
of his deepest intuitions. Thus while agreeing with Kant 
that the mere intellect cannot grasp the supersensuous, he 
could not follow him in asserting that the supersensuous 
cannot be given in experience. The facts of his own 
conscious Hfe told another tale : and the task stiU remained 
for him, of constructing a philosophy with which these 
facts were in harmony. 

AH that we can know (says Kant) is the world of 

phenomena. Hence the Ideas of Reason (God, freedom, 

and immortaHty) can never be objects of Knowledge. 

Moreover, even by reason itself these Ideas are not grasped 

as reaHties — they remain regulative ideas, hypotheses 

essential indeed to our construction of experience, yet 

stiH hypotheses. But to Coleridge the Ideas are reaHties : 

ijvTl and what he chooses to caH the Reason is the organ of our 

^y iinsight into them. 

' Kant's distrust of the world of sense has its counterpart 

1 Bios[. Lit. i. q8. 

Introdtiction xliii 

in his distrust of the emotional side of our nature, which, 
while it leads him to purge the moral consciousness of all 
elements of inclination, renders it irapossible for him to do 
full justice to the testimony of aesthetic experience. He 
could not, consistently with his analysis of experience and 
the human mind, assign a high value to the deliverances 
of the imagination, If the emotional tinge in moral and 
religious enthusiasm invalidates their purity, so the 
imaginative interpretation of nature is more liable to error 
than the purely scientific. In seeming to pierce to the 
truth of things, it is in fact creating, out of a world already 
subjective, one more subjective still. Doubtless Kant 
would fain have seen, in the sense of certitude which such 
experiences bring, a pledge of the ultimate unity of sense 
and spirit : but this would have been to abandon his 
fundamental position. Thus while he analyses the charac- 
teristics of aesthetic consciousness with extraordinary 
sympathy and power of insight, he is obliged to deny to it 
the most significant characteristic of all — that of objectivity. 
But the faith in this objectivity was a prime article of 
CoIeridge's poetic, and therefore of his philosophic, 

It is evident, then, that CoIeridge's conception of the 
imagination was not fundamentally affected by his study of 
Kant. Yet in one direction it was probably enlarged by 
that study. Hitherto Coleridge had thought of this faculty 
as a distinct poetic faculty, a gift granted in large 
measure only to a few minds, and perhaps entirely denied 
to some. But in Kant he found assigned to it a uni- 
versal function in the construction of experience— that 
of mediating between the data of sense and the forms of 
the understanding. And Kant's analysis of the strictly 
aesthetic activity of the imagination is based on his con- 
ception of this universal function : for, according to him, it 
is the recognition of the harmony of the faculties of knovv- 

xliv Introduction 

ledge in view of any particular object that constitutes our 
aesthetic consciousness of that object. Thus Coleridge, 
however little he might agree with Kant's account of either 
of these functions, was yet led from this time to regard the 
faculty in a twofold aspect — as the common property of all 
minds, and also, in its highest potency, as the gift of a few. 

In the distinction of fancy and imagination, it is unlikely 
that Coleridge was helped much by his study of the critical 
philosophy. For the ground of that distinction (that the 
deHverances of fancy are subjective, those of the imagina- 
tion objective) could not be conceded by Kant.' For him 
the freedom of the imagination in its highest form of 
activity is formal only, its creations are arbitrary and 
contingent : it can tell us nothing of the real nature of 
things.' And this for the reason that, as regards the 
material of its intuitions, it is passive and dependent ; 
determined from without, not determining from within. 
Thus, Hke the inteHect, it combines the particulars of sense 
merely as particulars, and not by the bond of an under- 
lying unity, to which indeed it can never penetrate. But 
the unifying power, which Coleridge assigns to the faculty, 
springs from this very penetration, which itself exists only 
in virtue of the common spiritual nature of the human 
mind and the universe which it contemplates. And the 
free creativeness of the imagination embraces the material, 
as well as the form of its objects; or, conversely, the 
imagination is creative in virtue of the sensuous, not 
merely of the intelligent within itself And thus we are 
brought again to the root of CoIeridge's difference with 
Kant — his denial of the essential passivity of our sensible 
and emotional nature. 

It is not, however, to be assumed that Coleridge from 

^ See p. Ivii infra. 

^ Thus where Kant regards beauty as a symbol of the moral 
order, it is a formal symbol only. 

Introditdion xlv 

the first adopted this critical attitude towards Kant, or 
definitely formulated his grounds of difference. For a time 
at least he seems to have lain entirely under the spell of 
Kant's intellect, and, especially in the sphere of aesthetic, 
to have adopted Kant's phraseology, his distinctions and 
definitions, without clearly asking himself how far they 
were in accordancewith his own metaphysical convictions. 
But his utterances at a later date show where the funda- 
mental diversity lay : ^ and meantime, even while immersed 
in the study of Kant, he was pursuing independently the 
reflections more intimate to his genius. 

Thus it is that he continues to hold fast to his belief in 
the creative power of the imagination. In January, 1804, 
shortly before the close of this period of his life, he writes 
to a friend that the imagination, in the highest sense of 
the word, is ' a dim analogue of creation, not all that we 
can believe, but all that vve can conceive of creation '.^ 
What Coleridge meant precisely by these words, it is per- 
haps useless to conjecture, but written as they were before 
any close study of Fichte and SchelHng, their anticipation 
of the final definition of the faculty in the Biographia 
Literaria is at least significant and noteworthy.^ For his 
theory of the imagination, as he held it in these earher 
years, was assuredly the growth of his own mind. 

During the years at Keswick Coleridge consoled himself 
in his inactivity by planning the execution of important 
works. Besides the" essay ' Concerning Poetry, and the 
Pleasures to be derived from it,' we hear in 1803 of an 
Organum vere organunt, or, *An Instrument of practical 

' Cp. letter to Green, Dec. 1817, ' I reject Kant's Stoic prin- 
ciple,' &c. (Letters, ii. 681) : and manuscript note in Green's 
copy of Kant's Rechtlehre, ' I do not believe that love is a mere 
" Sache der Empfindung" '. 

^ Letters, ii. 450. 

^ The primar^' Imagination is a repetition in the finite mind of 
the eternal act of creation in the Infinite I am. Biog. Lit. i. 202. 


Reasoning in the business of real life/ atitle expanded later 
into ' Consolations and Comforts from the exercise and 
right application of the Reason, the Imagination, and the 
Moral Feehng, especially addressed to those in sickness, 
adversity, or distress of mind, from speculative gloom, &:c.' 
Whether this work (vvhose title anticipates the prospectus 
of The Friend) would have thrown Hght on his conception 
of the imagination, must be left to conjecture : for he left 
England with his schemes unreahzed. But the title suggests 
that his chief interest lay not in the direction of pure 
aesthetic, and is characteristic of a mind which could not 
devote itself exclusively to any special department of 
knowledge, and remain indifferent to its wider, above all to 
its human, significance. In the same year, 1803, a letter to 
Godwin alludes to a yet more ambitious work, which 
subject is nothing less than ' the omne scibile, what we are 
and how we become what we are — so as to solve the two 
grand problems how, being acted upon, we shall act '. But 
the execution of these tasks, problematic, perhaps, in 
itself, received a definite check in the visit to Malta, which 
Coleridge undertook in the spring of 1804. 

IV. Malta. 
Coleridge remained abroad for something more than 
two years. It was a dark period in his life. The bodily 
maladies, to escape which had been a primary motive of 
his visit to Malta, pursued him even there, and were aggra- 
vated by the growing sense of domestic trouble and per- 
sonal isolation. In Malta he threw himself into public 
affairs, becoming first the private secretary to Sir Robert 
Ball and afterwards public secretary in the island. The 
duties imposed by these offices were heavy, and left him 
little leisure for more congenial tasks. But his note-books 
show us that in his spare moments he was busy with the 
abstrusest psychological problems. His chief studies were 

Introduction xlvii 

probably still in Kant. With Fichte's writings he had 
made some acquaintance before he left Malta;' but of 
Schelling he probably made no serious study until a later 
date. Among the intellectual gains of these years is to 
be reckoned a deeper insight into the nature of the fine 
arts, of which, as he declared, he learned more during the 
three months at Rome than he would have acquired in 
England in twenty years. Rehgious questions, too, must 
have occupied him deeply. Shortly after his return to 
England we find that he has fully accepted the Trinitarian 
position.^ To give to this creed a philosophical expression, 
or at least to demonstrate its harmony with a true philo- 
sophy, became afterwards his most absorbing task. 

V. Lectures and 'The Friend'. 

On his return to England, Coleridge seems at first to 
have settled down as assistant to Stuart. But he found 
journaHsm less to his taste than ever ; and being in pressing 
need of money, he turned his thoughts to lecturing. 
Already in 1806 he contemplated dehvering a course of 
lectures at the Royal Institution, on the subject of ' Taste', 
but they were not actually given till the winter of 1807-8, 
and the title finally chosen was not ' Taste ', but the 
' Principles of Poetry '. Of these lectures only the scan- 
tiest record has been preserved in the notes taken by 
Crabb Robinson.^ _This is the more to be regretted, 
seeing that, according to Coleridge, the opinions they 
embodied were substantially the same as those of the 
lectures of 1812, dehvered after Coleridge had become 
acquainted with Schlegers lectures.* In a letter to 

^ Already in 1804 he speaks of the affinities between Fichte 
and himself. Anhna Poetae, p. 106. 

^ Cottle, Remin. 314-25. 

^ Diary, &^c. 1872, vol. i. p. 140. 

■* Ledures on Dramatic Art and Literaiure, delivered 1808, 
pub. 1809. See note to Biog. Lit. i. 21 f. n. 

r xlvi>? Introduction 

Mrs. Clarkson, Crabb Robinson speaks of Coleridge as 
having 'adopted in all respects the German doctrines'. 
What these doctrines may have been is not stated ; but 
no doubt Coleridge drew largely on Kant's analysis of 
beauty. Thus Robinson speaks of him as 'working in 
Kant*s admirable definition of the Naiv'.^ 

In the autumn of 1808 Coleridge took up his abode in 
Grasmere, where he was soon busy planning the publica- 
tion of The Friend. Of this work Dorothy Wordsworth 
wrote, ' I have Httle doubt that it will be well executed if his 
health does not fail him ; but on that score ... I have many 
fears.' These fears were unhappily only too well-founded. 
Of the subjects proposed for discussion in the Prospectus, 
that which has most value for our purpose, ' The principles 
common to the Fine Arts/ was never deah with. More- 
over the aim of the publication, as the title indicates, was 
didactic rather than speculative,* and we should look in 
vain for a definite statement of aesthetic or philosophic 
doctrine. The influence of Kant is evident throughout ; but 
the distinction of reason and understanding is extended 
J^ by Coleridge in accordance with his own preconceptions. 
*" ^ / Reason is the supreme faculty, the organ of the highest 
I and the most certain knowledge. The ultimate ground of 
I this certainty Hes, it is true, in our moral being,' but its 
" significance is not therefore merely ethical ; for the ideas 
of reason have speculative, as well as practical, vahdity.* 

* See letter printed in Sara Coleridge's edition of the Notes 
and Lednres on Shakespeare, Appendix. 

^ See Biog. Lit. ch. x., and notes. 

' Reason and conscience are practically identified in The 
Friend. Conscience ^ commands us to attribute Reality and 
actual Existence, to those Ideas, and those only, without which 
the conscience itself would be baseless and contradictory '. 
And Reason is itself called ' the Mother of Conscience, of 
Language, of Tears and of Smiles '. 77!^ Friend, Nos. 5 and 9. 
Cp. The Excursion, iv. 236. 

* Coleridge condemned the rigid distinction of practical and 
speculative reason as ' arbitrary, and a hypostasizing of mere 

Introduction (jdi^t^' 

It is much to be regretted that these conclusions were 
not applied in The Friend to a philosophy of art. Cole- 
ridge's theory of the imagination, however, is illuminated 
by a passage descriptive of genius.' Of this power it 
is the peculiar characteristic 'to find no contradiction 
in the union of old and new ' : ' to carry on the feeHngs 
of childhood into the powers of manhood ' ; ' to combine 
the child's sense ofwonder and novelty with the appear- 
ances which every day for perhaps forty years have rendered 
famihar.' The virtu p \\fr(^ aggjpjnpr^ t p srenius is, in effect, 
t hat imagin ative interpretation of things which sugges ts 
but never discioscia llltd iiiy&Leiiuub mouiio c\\ \\ne\r hfino- 
Andthe distinction of genius and talent, made in the same 
passage, is analogous to the former one of imagination and 
fancy. For in genius we see ' the marks of a mind that 
feels the riddle of the world, and may help to solve it ' ; 
but talent (like* fancy) is powerless to bring us closer to 
the truth of thi*ngs. 

While The /^mwfl? abounds in the fruits of Kant's teach- 
ing, there is nothing in it which we are justified in 
ascribing to the influence of the German idealists. Yet 
Coleridge must by this period have become famihar with 
their writings. The following year (1810), which saw him 
back in London, marks the commencement of his intimacy 
with Crabb Robinson ; and on the occasion of one of their 
eadiest meetings,^ Coleridge dehvered his sentiments on 
Kant and post-Kantean philosophy. While of Kant him- 
self he spoke in terms of the warmest approbation and 
gratitude, Fichte and Schelling were both convicted of 

logical entities' (marginal note in Tenneman's Geschichte der 
Philosophie, directed against the post-Kanteans). In estimating 
Coleridge's debt to Kant, his previous acquaintance with the 
Cambridge Platonists must be taken into account. See note to 
Biog. Lit. i. 109. 

^ See Biog. Lit. i. 59, where this passage is quoted. 

"^ Nov. 15, 1810. 

1 Introdnction 

error where they had departed from Kant's teaching. At 
another meeting and many subsequent ones, there was 
niuch discussion of reHgious questions ; and later Crabb 
Robinson records that he is ' altogether unable to reconcile 
his (C.'s) metaphysical and empirico-rehgious opinions ' } 

This same year 1810 gave birth to a fragmentary 
' Essay on Taste ', in which the resemblance to Kant's 
treatment of the subject shows how far Coleridge was 
irom an independent standpoint in aesthetic. That he left 
the essay in an unfinished state possibly bears witness to 
the same fact. During the ensuing years his occupation as 
a lecturer on literature, and his study of German idealism 
(particularly of Fichte, SchelUng, and Jean Paul), must have 
stimulated his interest in questions of aesthetic, and led 
him to probe more deeply the real significance of imagi- 
native experience. Meantime the old distinction of fancy 
and imagination is still exercising his thoughts. Fancy is 
described to C. Robinson, in 1810, as ' the arbitrary bring-i| 
ing together of things that he remote, and forming them y 
into a unity ' ; it ' acts by a sort of juxtaposition '. The ima- U 
gination, ' on the other hand, under excitement, generates 
and produces a form of its own.' ^ To unify and to create 
are thus conceived as its most characteristic powers. 

At the end of 181 1 Coleridge, resuming his role of 

lecturer, delivered lectures on Shalcespeare and Milton, 

' in illustration of the Principles of Poetry,' &c. Unfortu- 

nately, the fragmentary record of these lectures contributes 

h'ttle to a definite knowledge of Coleridge's theory. In the 

fourth lecture ' Coleridge speaks of the imagination as one 

of the three essential qualities of the poet, the other two 

being the power of association * and sensibilityl His 

^ C. Robinson, Diary, &'c., Dec. 11, 1811. 
^ Ib., Nov. 15, 1810. 

^ See the record of these lectures in T. Ashe's Ledures, &'c, 
of S. T. Coleridge, p. 57 (Bohn's Library). 
* Crabb Robinson reported on these lectures in the Times 

Introdudion li 

further discussion of these qualities is not preserved ; but 
from the fact that Shakespeare's Veniis and Adonis is 
analysed in illustration of them, and vvith our knowledge 
of Coleridge's tendency to almost verbal repetition, the 
inference seems justified that the substance of his remarks 
in the lecture is embodied in chapter xi of the Biographia 
Literaria. In this chapter we read that the mere faithful 
reproduction of natural appearances does not of itself 
mark the poet ; that ima ges drawn from nature be come-' 
p roofs of original genius only in respect of the transform a-. 
tion w hich U iey undergo under t he action of the poetic 
s pirit. This transformation is variously efFected. 'They 
are modified by a predominant passion ; or by associated 
thoughts and images awakened by that passion ; or when 
they have the efiect of reducing multitude to unity, or 
succession to an instant ; or lastly, when a human or intel- 
lectual life is transferred to them from the poet's own 

Which shoots its being thro' earth, sea, and air. 

Of these various kinds of imagery, that is the most charac- 
teristic of poetic genius which ' moulds and colours itself 
to the circumstances, passion or character, foremost in the 
mind'. The imagination, then, (for it is this faculty, evi- 
dently, which Coleridge has in view,) attains its highest 
potency when transfusing into the outward forms which 
it contemplates the-emotional life which determines its 
activity. It is thus the same process which years before 
Coleridge had poetically depicted in Dejection, and which 
in a letter of the same period he had characterized as 

He wrote that the lecturer's 'great object appears to be to 
exhibit in poetry the principles of moral wisdom, and the laws 
of our intellectual nature which form the basis of social ex- 
istence'. His impression of Coleridge was of a manwho on all 
occasions ' really thinks and feels for himself '. (The italics are 

d 2 

lii Introductton 

' a dim analogue of creation '. The conception of this 
analogy, then tentatively expressed, must in the inter- 
vening years have grown in definiteness and significance, 
as Coleridge pushed forward to an ideahstic solution of the 
problem of knowledge. 

In the next year two other courses of lectures were 
given, the only record of which is preserved in C. Robin- 
son's Diary. But Robinson gives only general impressions. 
His allusion to the 'very German character of the lectures' ^ 
need not be construed as implying that Coleridge was 
merely adopting German views. Indeed, Robinson else- 
where records how a German friend of his, who attended 
the lectures, was struck with the similarity between Cole- 
ridge and German authors whom (as Robinson adds) 
Coleridge had never read.'^ 

Of a series of lectures deUvered in Bristol on similar 
topics in 1813, the best thing we know is that C. Leslie, 
the painter, carried away from them ' a much more distinct 
and satisfactory view of the nature and ends of poetry ' 
than he had possessed before. A better fate awaited a 
series of essays ' On the principles of sound criticism ', 
which have been preserved in Felix Farley's Joiirnal for 
1814. Of these essays Coleridge himself thought most 
highly, and towards the end of his life he expressed his 
regret that he had lost sight of them. Like all his 
writings on aesthetic, however, they are fragmentary and 
tentative. The distinctions and definitions of Kant's 
Criiique of Judgement are illustrated and applied with 
appreciative insight, but there is no genuine advance 
beyond Kant's standpoint. Moreover, they come to an 
end without accomplishing their real purpose. This pur- 
pose was to furnish the critic with irrefutable principles of 
criticism, based upon the laws which govern the artist's 

^ C. Robinson, Diary, &*c., May 26, 1812. 
^ Ib., N0V.4, 181 1 

Introduction liii 

activity and upon the essential nature of the beautiful, 
But Coleridge never teaches us how to turn our knowledge 
of these things to practical account, by actually converting 
these metaphysical or psychological truths into effective 
instruments of criticism. Yet much as the incompleteness 
of these essays is to be regretted, we must not on that 
account underrate their significance. By the only method 
which could command assent (the appeal to incontrovert- 
ible principles) they exposed the unreasonableness of the 
prevaihng individuahsm in questions of taste, and of the 
mistaken theories on which it leaned. They thus repre- 
sent the first attempt to express philosophically the new 
spirit of artistic and literary criticism. The first attempt, 
that is, in writing ; for in his lectures Coleridge's object 
had been the same.' 

The lamentable breach with Wordsworth, which occurred 
at the end of 1810, brought with it along lapse in the inter- 
course of the two poets. This is the more to be regretted 
from the fact that during these years the same problems 
were engaging the minds of both. For Wordsworth was 
busy preparing the new edition of his poems, and elaborat- 
ing the principles of classification which he afterwards dis- 
cussed in hispreface. In various conversations with Crabb 
Robinson he discoursed upon these principles, and in 
especial upon the distinction of fancy and imagination. To 
these expositions Crabb Robinson proved an attentive, but 
not always an enlightened listener. ' Neither now' (he 
writes in 1816) 'nor in reading the preface ' (to the new 
edition) 'have I been able to comprehend his ideas con- 
cerning the poetic imagination.' Elsewhere, however, he 

^ See Payne ColIier's Diary, 1811. ' He means very soon, to 
give a series of lectures . . . mainly upon Poetry, with a view to 
erect some standard by which all poets may be measured and 
ranked .... He thought something of this kind was much 
needed, in order to settle people's notions of what was, or was 
not, good poetry, and who was, or was not, a good poet.' 

liv Introduction 

remarks that ' Wordsworth represents much, as, unknown 
to him, the German philosophers have done, that by the 
imagination the mere fact is exhibited in its connection 
with infinity '.^ But Wordsworth's views would doubtless 
have largely gained in clearness, could he have maintained 
his exchange of ideas with Coleridge on a distinction 
which their intercourse had originated in years long past. 
To Robinson at least it seemed that Coleridge's own ex- 
position of the subject had the effect of greatly illuminating 
' Wordsworth's obscure discrimination '? 


In April 1816, after years of wandering, Coleridge 
found what proved to be a lasting home under the 
Gillmans' roof at Highgate. In December of the same 
year a visit was paid to him by Crabb Robinson, to whom 
Coleridge spoke of his memoirs, then about to appear, and 
gave the account of imagination and fancy alluded to above. 
Of fancy he spoke ' as not holding that place in a chart of 
the mind which imagination holds ' ; 'and which ' (the 
Diary adds) ' he has in his Lay Sermon so admirably 
described.' ^ 

The ' Lay Sermon ' here alluded to is that pubHshed in 
1816 under the title of The Statcsman^ s Mamial, and ' the 
memoirs ' are the two volumes of the Btograpliia Literaria 
which appeared in July of the following year, some twenty 
months after it was first placed in the printer's hands. In 
the ' Lay Sermon ' the discussion of the imagination is quite 
incidental to the main subject : it is the Biographia Literaria 

^ Compare e. g. Jean Paul {Vorschule der Aesthetik, ii. 7) : * Die 
Phantasie macht alle Teile zu Ganzen '. 

"^ Diary, &^c., Sept. 10, 1816 ; ib., Dec. 26, 1816. Fancy is 
defined as ' memory without judgment '. 

' See Supplementary Note for a fuller account of the genesis 
of the Biographia Literaria. 

Introduction Iv 

which contains Coleridge's first and last genuine attempt 
to expound his conception of its nature. 

The variety of motiveswhich gave rise to iht Btographia 
Literaria reveals itself in the miscellaneous character of 
the work. Intended in the first instance as a preface to 
the Sihylline Leaves, it grew into a literary autobiography 
which itself came to demand a preface. This preface 
itself outgrew its purposed hmits, and was incorporated 
in the whole work, which was finally issued in two parts 
— the autobiography (two vols.) and the poems.^ Originally, 
no doubt, Coleridge's motive in writing the preface was to 
explain and justify his own style and practice in poetry. 
To this end it was necessary that he should state clearly 
the points on which he took exception to Wordsworth's 
theory. All this, however, seemed to involve an examina- 
tion of the nature of poetry and the poetic faculty : and this 
in its turn suggested, if it did not demand, a radical 
inquiry into the preconditions of knowledge in general. 
To Coleridge, as we have seen, the distinction of fancy 
and imagination was a distinction of equal import for 
philosophy and for poetry. But having thus been led to a 
consideration of fundamental problems, there was danger 
that he would pursue them for their own sake ; especially 
when the occasion was afforded him of attacking his old 
bugbear, the mechanical philosophy. This uncertainty of 
aim is illustrated in a letter of July 1815.^ After writing that 
he has given ' a full account (raisonn^) of the controversy 
concerning Wordsworth's poems and theory,* he adds, ' I 
have elaborated a disquisition on the powers of association 
and the generic difference between the fancy and the 
imagination. . . . One long passage I did not (wholly) 
insert, but I certainly extended and elaborated with a 
view to your perusal, as laying the foundation-stone of 

^ Letters to Dr. Brabant, printed in Wesim. Review, April 
and July 1870. 

Ivi Introdticfwn 

the constructive or dynamic philosophy, as opposed to 
the merely mechanic.' Coleridge's vagueness of language 
leaves it uncertain to what part of the vi^ork he is here 
referring ; but it seems not unhkely that the passage 
which he elaborated, but did not insert, was the missing 
portion of the chapter ' On the imagination, or esemplastic 
power '. 

In the opening page of the work itself, Coleridge antici- 
pates the charge of a personal motive in writing. ' The 
narration' (he writes) 'has been used chiefly for the purpose 
of giving continuity to the work, in part for the reflections 
suggested to me by particular events : but still more as 
introductory to a statement of my principles in PoUtics, 
Religion, and Philosophy, and the appHcation of the rules, 
deduced from philosophical principles, to poetry and 
criticism.' But it cannot be said that the narrative portion 
of the book, detached and fragmentary as it is, really fulfils 
this introductory purpose, or relieves the student from the 
task of reconstructing, from this and other sources, the 
gradual development of Coleridge's opinions to the point 
which they had now attained. Indeed, as Coleridge admits, 
the very narrative itself was made to serve three distinct 
ends, each of which was an obstacle to the fulfilment of the 
other two. 

But enough has been said of the miscellaneous character 
of the Biographia Literaria. It remains to consider 
what definite contribution to Coleridge's theory of the^ 
imagination it actually contains. Unfortunately, it is not 
easy in a work of this kind, to distinguish the record 
of opinions arrived at in the past from the statement of 
those now first clearly adopted. Indeed, our knowledge 
of Coleridge's earlier views is partly based upon this very 
book, although happily we have other sources of corrobora- 
tion. The development of these views may here be briefly 

Introdudion Ivii 

In tracing the origin of the theory in Coleridge*s mind, 
we saw how his early doubts as to the validity of the 
mechanical explanation of knowledge, if they did not 
originate in, were yet confirmed by, the testimony of the 
imagination in its poetic function. Its power to reveal 
a new aspect of things, and compel our faith in its revela- 
tion, naturally suggested a new attitude to the problem of 
knowledge. For although on the one hand the mind in its 
poetic interpretation of outward forms is Hmited and deter- 
mined by the nature of those forms, yet it is equally free 
and creative in respect of them, in so far as it invests 
them with a being and a life which as mere objects of the 
senses they do not possess. Moreover, the basis of this 
activity being the desire for self-expression (not of the 
individual merely, but of the universal self), the fitness of 
the external world to be the vehicle of such expression 
pointed to its participation in a common reahty with the 
self which it reflected. But the fact that the imagination 
is a restricted gift rendered it impossible to regard it as 
universally active in the process of knowledge. 

At this point Coleridge became acquainted with Kant's 
works and found in his account of the mind a definite 
place assigned to the imagination as an indispensable 
factor in the attainment of knowledge. For since the 
understanding, as a purely intellectual faculty, was inca- 
pable of reaching the manifold of sense, it was necessary to 
call in the services of the imagination, which in virtue of its 
twofold nature presents that manifold in a form suitable for 
its subsumption under the categories. The imagination 
as thus operative is not a mere faculty of images : still less 
is it the faculty of poetic invention : its peculiar character- 
istic lies in the power of figurative synthesis, or of delineat- 
ing the forms of things in general. Moreover, in performing 
this function it is subject to the laws of the understand- 
ing : its procedure, therefore, contributes nothing to our 

Iviii Introduction 

knowledge of the origin of phenomena. But for this very 
reason of its conformity to the understanding, its deliver- 
ances are objective, that is, valid for all thinking beings : 
and are in this respect to be distinguished from the 
creations of its reproductive activity, which as subject 
to empirical conditions (the laws of association) have 
merely individual and contingent validity. Finally, in the 
aesthetic judgement, the imagination, though still receiving 
its law from the understanding, is yet so far free, that its 
activity is determined not by the necessity of a particular 
cognition, but by its own character as an organ of know- 
ledge in general. 

^ant thus distinguishes three functions or activities of 
the imagination : as reproductiye» in which it is subject to 
empirical conditions ; as productrye, in which it acts spon- 
taneously and determines phenomena instead of being 
determined by them, but yet in accordance with a law of 
the understanding ; and as aesthetic, when it attains its 
highest degree of freedom in respect of the object, which 
it regards as material for 'a possible, not an actual and 
impending, act of cognition. 

For the first and last of these functions Coleridge had 
already found a name and a description. To Kant's 
reproductive imagination corresponds the fancy. To the 
imagination as poetic Coleridge assigns, as we have seen, 
a far greater dignity and significance than Kant could 
possibly allow it. For in Kant's view even the highest 
activity of the imagination (its symbolical interpretation 
of beauty) has no warranty in the supersensuous ground 
ofthings. Meanwhile the second of these three functions, 
to Kant by far the most important (as a universal factor in 
knowledge), presented Coleridge with fresh matter for 
reflection. Here, too, it was impossible for him to stop 
short with Kant. That insight into reality which charac- 
terized the imagination in its highest potency must also 

Introduction lix 

adhere to it in its universal use. The fact that the poet, 
in impressing his conscious self upon the world of objects, 
seemed to penetrate to the core of their being, might at 
least suggest the explanation of all knowledge as founded 
on a similar self-recognition of the subject in the object, 
and indicate the imagination as the organ of this 

From Kant, however, Coleridge received no justification 
for such an hypothesis, though a suggestion might have 
been furnished in the unity of apperception as the basic 
principle of all acts of knowledge. On passing to the 
study of Ficht€r be found a development of Kantean doc- 
trine for whiciiJhe Jiad only a qualified approval. '^y 
commencing with an act, instead of a thing or substance 
. . ., Fichte suppHed the idea of a system truly meta- 
physical, and of a metaphysique truly systematic (i.e. having 
its spring and principle within itself). But this funda- 
mental idea he overlaid with a heavy massofmerenotions. 
. . . Thus his theory degenerates into a crude egoismus, 
a boastful and hyperstoic hostility to Nature, as lifeless, 
godless, and altogether unholy.' ' It is not diflficult to 
understand how little such a conception of nature would 
be welcome to Coleridge. Nor could the account of the 
imagination in Fichte's system commend itself to him. 
For having no external foundation for its activity, this 
faculty is consumed in the perpetual endeavour to outstrip 
the limits of self, in a restless self-torture which issues in 
unsubstantial mockeries of creation.^ Such a conclusion, 
however much it might appeal to certain moods in Coleridge 
as in us all, was certainly inimical to the faith which 
never wholly deserted him — the behef in a Spirit which 

^ Bio^. Lit. i. IOI-2. 

^ Ficnte, Grnndlage der gesammten Wissenschaftslehre {Werke, 
1845), i. 214-16 : ' Imagination is a power that sways to and fro 
between determination and non-determination, between finite 
and infinite.' 

Ix Introductton 

spoke directly to the soul of man, but also revealed itself 
mediately through the forms of nature. 

How far Coleridge's endeavours to find a philosophical 
expression for this faith had brought him when first his 
study of Schelling began, is a matter which cannot be 
accuratelydetermined; nor what those 'genial coincidences' 
may have been, to which he alludes in the Btographia 
Literaria. The large verbal borrowings from Schelling in 
the course of the ' deduction of the imagination ' suggest 
that when he began to write he had accepted SchelHng's 
account of the faculty, or at least found his own conclu- 
sions happily expressed therein.* Of these excerpts by far 
the greater number are taken from the Transcendental 
Idealisni ; ^ it is, therefore, the account of the imagination 
presented in this work which concerns us here, 

Now to the imagination Schelling daringly assigns a 
function of high, indeed of the highest, dignity and impor- 
tance. It is proclaimed as the organ of truth, and of 
truth not as the artist only, but as the philosopher appre- 
hends it. And the quality, which makes it thus their 
common instrument, is the power of reconciling opposites 
in virtue oftheir inner unity ; of discovering the ground of 
harmony between apparent contradictories. Such a recon- 
ciliation is demanded by transcendental philosophy. For 
the task of this philosophy is to discover in consciousness 
itselj an explanation of the apparent contradiction involved 
in the fact, that the self or subject is conceived as both 
active and passive as regards the object, as both deter- 
mining it and determined by it. Such a solution can take 
only one form : the recognition, namely, that these appa- 
rently opposed and unrelated activities are really but a 
twofold aspect of the same activity, that the power which 
determines is also the power which is determined. As 

^ See Biog. Lit., note to i, 95, 1, 21. 
2 Published 1804. 

Introdiidion Ixi 

the transcendental philosopher starts from the fact of con- 
sciousness, it is in consciousness itself that he must 
discover the original and prototype of this activity. And 
this he finds in the act of pure self-consciousness, in which 
the subject becomes its own object, and subject and object 
are therefore identical. Now from its very nature the 
apprehension of this pure self-consciousness, or pure 
activity returning upon itself, cannot be other than imme- 
diate and intuitive. Moreover, as reflecting the ultimate 
ground of all knowledge, it is productive and an act of the 
same power, whereby that ultimate principle is reflected 
objectively in the work of art. In either case the reflective 
or productive power is the imagination. 

But the imagination, in this its highest potency, is itself 
identical in kind, though not in degree, with that very 
activity which it contemplates and reflects. For the 
original act whereby pure intelHgence (the Absolute or 
Urselbst, as SchelHng calls it) objectifies and limits itself 
in order to contemplate itself in its limitation, is an act of 
imagination, and indeed the primary act, an act which is 
subsequently repeated in the experience of every indi- 
vidual mind, in becoming conscious of an external world. 
This degree of imagination is common to all thinking 
beings. But as we rise in the scale of self-knowledge, the 
faculty reaches a higher intensity and is confined propor- 
tionately in extent, till in its highest power it pertains only 
to a chosen few. In the ordinary consciousness, imagina- 
tion renders possible the distinction of self from aworld of 
objects ; in the philosopher it is the power of contemplating 
inwardly the ground of this distinction, and so overcoming 
it ; and in the artist of giving to the reconciling principle 
an outward and objective expression. Hence the supe- 
riority of art to all other modes of the revelation of truth. 

' Philosophy starts with an infinite division of two 
opposed activities ; but the same division is at the root of 

Ixii Introdudion 

every aesthetic production, and is completely resolved by 
every individual representation of art. What is then that 
marvellous faculty by which, according to the assertion of 
the philosopher, an infinite contradiction is resolved in the 
productive intuition ? . . . That productive faculty is the 
same vvhich enables art to compass the impossible, to 
resolve an infinite contradiction in a finite product. It is 
the poetic faculty, which in its first power is the original 
intuition, and contrariwise, it is only the productive intui- 
tion reasserting itself in the highest power, that we call 
the poetic faculty. It is one and the same power which 
is active in both, the sole power whereby we are able to 
think and comprehend what is contradictory— namely, 
the imagination.' ^ 

In attributing to the imagination the function in conscious- 
ness of reconciHng opposites and so underlying all acts of 
knowledge, SchelHng is but developing the conception of 
Kant, according to which the faculty mediates between the 
understanding and the senses. But to Kant this recon- 
ciHng power implied no community of nature between the 
self and its object; the knowledge to which it contributed 
was vaHd only for the self from which it drew its unifying 
principle. When, however, the imagination is conceived 
as recognizing the inherent interdependence of subject and 
object (as complementary aspects of a single reaHty), its 
dignity is immeasurably raised. How far such a function 
can be legitimately attributed to such a faculty, is another 
question. It should, however, be remembered, that the 
German word (Einbildungskraft^) does not etymologicaHy 
imply the power of deaHng with images as sensuous repre- 
sentations, but merely the power of immediate appre- 
hension in general, and therefore its application to an act 
of pure inteHigence would not present the same difficulty 

1 Transc. Ideal. {Werke, 1858), I. iii. 626. 

* From eins=one : whereas the 'ein' in ' Einbildungskraft ' 
has an adverbial force, as in the phrase, ' ich bilde es mir 
ein'. Bilden=to shape or create in its widest sense. 

Introdiiction Ixiii 

as in the case of the word ' imagination '. It was no doubt 
because he felt this difficulty that Coleridge coined the 
term ' esemplastic power', a term which he apparently 
owed to his erroneous translation of the word ' Ein- 
bildungskraft ', as signifying 'the unifying power'.^ But 
in spite of his false etymology Coleridge rightly appre- 
hended the agreement of Schelling's conception, in its 
cardinal features, with his own ; to unify and so to 
create is, in the view of both writers, the characteristic 
function of the imagination. And of this unification the 
principle is found in the self, conceived not abstractly but 
as the whole nature of man, or all that is essential to that 
nature. Thought and feeling, in their original identity, 
demand expression through an organ which itself par- 
takes of both. 

To Schelling's conception it has been objected, that in 
constituting the imagination the peculiar organ of philo- 
sophy, he countenances the claim of every visionary to a 
respectful hearing, be his system never so wild and fan- 
tastic. But this is to misinterpret his meaning, and to 
fall into the common error of confounding fancy with 
imagination. If the faculty of imagination be not equally 
active in all men, its activity is none the less independent 
of the idiosyncrasies of the individual, its witness is none 
the less a witness of universal validity. By calling it the 
organ of philosophy, Schelling means that philosophy 
must start from a fundamental experience, and that it is 
the imagination which renders this fundamental experience 
possible. And to Schelling this ultimate fact of experi- 
ence appeared to be given, inwardly, in what he called 
the intellectual intuition, and outwardly, in the products of 
art. These, he asserted, were intuitions of truth which 
demanded universal acceptance. 

^ Cp. Anima Poetae, p. 236. 

Ixiv Introdudion 

But at the same time Schelling acknowledged that of 
these facts one at least (the object of intellectual intuition) 
could not be made universally conscious. He therefore 
started from a datum which it was not in the power of all 
men to realize. No appeal to a universal spiritual faculty 
was here possible. AII that lay open to him was to point to 
the creations ofart, astheguaranteeandevidence{evidence 
made visible to all) of that ultimate ground of all know- 
ledge and being which the philosopher alone could directly 

Now, that poetry and philosophy, if their message be 
true, must be founded ori the same spiritual experience, 
Coleridge would have readily acknowledged ; indeed, it 
was the truth forwhich he had been contending throughout 
his life. To this truth, moreover, his own mental history 
bore witness ; for he was conscious that the same impulse 
lay at the root of his poetic and speculative creation, the 
impulse to give again that which he had felt and known. 
By his own confession in later years, it was the same 
* spirit of power ' which had stirred him throughout — 

A matron now, of sober mien, 
Yet radiant still and with no earthly sheen, 
Whom as a faery child my childhood woo'd 
Even in my dawn of youth — Philosophy ; 
Tho' then, unconscious of herself, pardie, 
She bore no other name than Poesy.^ 

And his description of his poetic manner, given in that 
' dawn of youth ' which he here recalls, shows that he was 
conscious of his inclination to confuse these kindred modes 
of communicating truth.^ It was the conviction that in 
either case the whole self must be active in the appre- 

^ The Garden of Boccaccio. 

^ Letter to Thelwall : ' I seldom feel without thinking, or think 
without feeling. . . . My philosophical opinions are blended with 
or deduced from my feehngs,' &c. Letters, p. 196, 


hension of reality, which in the first instance opened his 
eyes to the error of the empiricists in their one-sided 
interpretation of a partial aspect of things. And it was to 
a poet (to the poet of the age) that he looked for a final 
confutation of this false philosophy. In Wordsworth's 
Excursion he had anticipated ' the first genuine philo- 
sophic poem '/ which in its conclusion was to have 
emphasized the message of which the age stood most in 
need. This message was none other than ' the necessity 
of a general revolution in the modes of developing and 
disciplining the human life by the substitution of life andi 
intelhgence . . . for the philosophy of mechanism, whichA 
in everything that is most worthy of the human intellect,| 
strikes Dcath, and cheats itself by mistaking clear images 
for distinct conceptions, and which idly demands concep- 
tions where intuitions alone are adequate to the truth. In 
short, facts elevated into theory, theory into laws, and 
laws into living and intelligent powers, true idealism 
necessarily perfecting itself in realism, and realism re- 
fining itself into idealism.' 

This task, however, Wordsworth had shown no in- 
clination to undertake ; and the sense that it was still 
waiting to be accomplished was present with Coleridge, 
when he was composing his literary life. And here 
the 'genial coincidence' of his opinions with those of 
Schelling stood him in good stead. For at this time at 
least he seems to have believed that in the transcendental 
philosophy was exemplified this process of ' true idealism 
perfecting itself in realism, and realism refining itself into 
idealism', and this through intuitions as 'alone adequate 
to the majesty of truth '. Hence it was that he incorporated 
into his book so much of Schelling's doctrines as suited 
his immediate purpose, without perhaps reflecting on their 
ultimate implications. A brief analysis of the relevant 
' Letters, p. 649. 

Ixvi Introduction 

portions of the Biographia Literaria vvill show this more 

After introducing, in chapter iv, the distinction of 
imagination and fancy, Coleridge proceeds to investigate it 
psychologically. He begins with an historical discussion of 
the theory of association, and compares AristotIe's theory 
with that of Hartley; the inadequacy of the ' mechani- 
cal theory' is then exposed, and the true nature of 
association explained. Having thus cleared the ground, 
Coleridge next purposed to show ' by what influences of 
the choice and judgement the associative power becomes 
either memory or fancy, and to appropriate the remaining 
offices of the mind to the reason and the imagination '. 
But this promise of a psychological treatment of the dis- 
tinction is not fulfilled : indeed we hear little more of the 
fancy until, in the final summing up, it is defined side by 
side, or rather in contrast, with the imagination. After 
some intervening chapters of general or biographical in- 
terest, Coleridge advances to the statement of his system, 
from which he proposes 'to deduce the memory with all the 
other functions of intelligence ', but which, as a matter of 
fact, he views in connexion with one faculty only — the 
imagination. In a series of theses he discovers the final 
principle of knowledge as 'the identity of subject and 
object' in 'the Sum, or I Am ', which 'is a subject which 
becomes a subject by the act of constructing itself objectively 
to itself; butwhich never is an object except for itself, and 
only so far as by the same act it becomes a subject '. 
Originally, however, it is not an object, but 'an absolute 
subject for which all, itself included, may become an object'. 
It must, therefore, be an act. Thus it follows that con- 
sciousness in its various phases is but a self-development 
of absolute spirit or intelligence. This process of self- 
development Coleridge asks us to conceive ' under the idea 
of an indestructible power with tvvo counteracting forces, 

IntroducUon ixvii 

which by a metaphor borrowed from astronomy, we may 
call the centrifugal and centripetal forces '. Such a power 
he ' assumes for his present purpose, in order to deduce 
from it a faculty the generation, agency, and appHcation of 
which form the contents of the ensuing chapter '. 

This faculty is the imagination or esemplastic power. . 
But the promised deduction is cut short by the timely or 
untimely letter of warning from Coleridge's fictitious friend. 
The chapter on the imagination, 'which cannot, when it 
is printed, amount to so Httle as an hundred pages,' was 
laid aside, and we are left with the mere conclusion, which 
is framed in the following words :- - 

' The imagination, then, I consider either as primary or 
secondary. The primary imagination I hold to be the 
living power and prime agent of all human perception, and 
as a repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of 
creation in the infinite I Am. The secondary I consider 
as an echo of the former, coexisting with the conscious 
will, yet still as identical with the primary in the kind of 
its agency, and differing only in degree and in the manner 
of its operation. It dissolves, dififuses, and dissipates in 
order to recreate : or, where this process is rendered im- 
possible, yet still, at all events, it struggles to idealize and 
to unify. It is essentially vital even as all objects (as 
objects) are essentially fixed and dead.' ' 

The distinction here drawn is evidently between the 
imagination as universally active in consciousness (creative 
in that it externalizes the worldof objects by opposing it to 
the selO and the same faculty in a heightened power as 
creative in a poetic sense. In the first case our exercise 
of the poweris unconscious : in the second the will directs, 
though it does not determine, the activity of the imagina- 
tion. The imagination ofthe ordinaryman is capable only 
of detaching the world of experience from the self and 
contemplating it in its detachment ; but the philosopher 

^ Biog. Lit. i. 202. 
e 2 

Ixviii Introduction 

penetrates to the underlying harmony and gives it con- 
crete expression, The ordinary consciousness, with no 
principle of unification, sees the universe as a mass of 
particulars : only the poet can depict this vvhole as 
reflected in the individual parts. It is in this sense (as 
Coleridge had written many years before) that to the poet 
' each thing has a hfe of its own, and yet they have all our 
life ' } And a similar contrast is present to Schelling when 
he writes that 'through the objective world as awhole, but 
never through a single object in it, an Infinite is repre- 
sented : whereas every single work of art represents 
Infinity '.^ 

With the definition of fancy which now follows we are 
already familiar. ' Fancy has no other counters to play 
with but fixities and definites. The fancy is indeed no 
other than a mode of memory emancipated from the order 
of time and space ; and blended with and modified by that 
empirical phenomenon of the will vvhich vve express by 
the word choice. But equally with the ordinary memory 
it must receive its materials all ready-made from the laws 
of association.' ^ This distinction, which in its essentials 
Coleridge made so long before, need not be long dvvelt 
upon here. As connected by the fancy, objects are viewed 
in their limitations and particularity ; they are 'fixed and 
dead ' in the sense that their connexion is mechanical 
and not organic. The law, indeed, which governs it is 
derived from the mind itself, but the links are supplied 
by the individual properties of the objects. Fancy is, in 
fact, the faculty of mere images or impressions, as imagina- 
tion is the faculty of intuitions. It is in this sense that 
Coleridge sees in their opposition an emblem of the wider 
contrast between the mechanical philosophy and the 
dynamic, the false and the true. 

' In 1802 {Letters, p. 405). See also snpra, p. xl. 
- Werke, i. 627. ^ Biog. Lit. ib. 




But vvith all this \ve have nothing of the promised 
'deduction' of the imagination, still less that of the 
memory and other ' functions of intelHgence '. The defini- 
tion of fancy is founded, apparently, on the psychological 
discussion of the earlier chapters, not on the theory of 
knowledge propounded later on. As to the imagination, it 
seems at first sight, from the close coincidence of CoIeridge's 
statement with that of ScheHing, that he had accepted 
Schening's system wholesale and with it his account of 
that faculty. But the sudden termination of the argument, 
and the unsatisfactory vagueness of the final summary, in 
which he does not realiy commit himself to Schelling's 
position, suggest that that position was not in fact his own. 
And this suggestion is confirmed by other evidence. 

That Coleridge's attitude from the first to Schelling's 
philosophy was by no means one of unqualified approval, 
we have already seen. But in the Transcendental Ideal- 
ism which he studied at a time when he was deeply 
engaged in aesthetic problems, he found a peculiar attrac- 
tion. Here for the first time the significance of ' the vision 
and the faculty divine ' seemed to be adequately realized. 
At first it appeared to Coleridge that he had met with a 
systematized statement of his own convictions, the meta- 
physic of poetry of which he was in search. But he was 
soon to find that the supposed concurrence did not exist — 
that the Transcendentalism of Schelling in fact elevated 
the imagination at the expense of other and more important 
factors in our spiritual consciousness. 

No doubt the feature most unsatisfactory to Coleridge in 
the Transcendental Idealism and in Schelling's philosophy 
in general was its vague conception of the ultimate ground 
of reality. For Schelling's absolute, which is prior to 
and behind self-consciousness, from which self-conscious- 
ness originates, is conceived as mere self-less identity or 
total indifference, of which all that can be said is that it 


Ixx ' Introduction 

is neither subject nor object, but the mere negation of both.' 
From such an abstract principle, it is evident, no living 
bond of union can be derived to hold together the com- 
plementary elements in self-consciousness when it is 
mysteriously generated : hence subject and object, in- 
telligence and nature, appear as parallel Hnes of co-ordi- 
nate value, connected by a merely logical necessity. In 
such a system there was clearly no place for the God of 
Coleridge's faith, as a Spirit to whom self-consciousness is 
essential, a Being ' in whom supreme reason and a most 
holy will are one with an infinite power '.- Thus it is that 
in his own account in the Biographia Literaria Coleridge is 
all the time striving to identify ScheIIing's 'intellectual in- 
tuition ' of subject and object in their absolute identity with 
the religious intuition, the direct consciousness of God. 

But this, of course, involves him in contradictions. For 
the power of intellectual intuition, the philosophic imagina- 
tion is, as Schelling conceived, a gift confined to a favoured 
iew, not a state of being in which all can, by moral eflTort, 
raise themselves : his philosophy cannot therefore take the 
form of a moral appeal. And here Coleridge, so long as 
his thoughts are concerned primarily with the imagination 
and its deduction, is inclined to follow him. The solution 
of the problem is to discover ' for whom and to whom the 
philosophical intuition is possible '. For ' there is a philo- 
sophic no less than a poetic genius, which is dififerenced 
from the highest perfection of talent, not by degree, but b}- 
kind '. If, however, this intuition of the supersensuous 
is none other than the consciousness of God, it must 

^ In later j^ears Schelling sought to reconcile his system with 
the idea of a personal God ; but with doubtful success. See the 
Philosophische Untersuchnugen uber das Wesen der menscldichen 
Freilieit (1809), and Coleridge's marginal comments thereon 
(Biog. Lit., 2nd Edition, Vol. I, Appendix). See also Professor 
Watson, Schelling's Transcendental Idealisni. 

' Confcssion of Faith, 1818. 


evidently be regarded as a spiritual condition accessible to 
all : and in thatcase its organ must be in afaculty essential 
to the spiritual constitution of man. 

This common organ of spiritual insight Coleridge had' 
long ago recognized and designated. Its name is rcason 
and its objects are not as Kant conceived them, regulative 
merely, but constitutive ; it brings us, that is to say, into 
direct contact with supersensuous reality. This point of 
view, as we saw, Coleridge had already adopted in The 
Friend of 1809 ; and on his conception of the reason, as 
subsequently developed, hinges his whole attempt to re- 
concile religion and philosophy. For it is the same faculty 
which, as intuitive, grasps the highest truths, and which, as 
speculative, develops them philosophically. In its specu- 
lative direction reason may be regarded as a peculiar gift ; 
but as intuitive it is the highest function of our spiritual 
nature, man's most glorious prerogative. For an in- 
tuition which is at once purely spiritual and yet not 
common to mankind is a manifest contradiction ; and the 
philosopher who imagines that he is brought into contact 
with the true ground of all knowledge is really contem- 
plating, as in the case of Schelling's Absolute, the arid 
abstractions of the speculative intellect. The 'philosophic 
imagination ' does not, in fact, exist for Coleridge ; or at 
least it means to him something very different from 
the conception of Schelling. And it is significant that in 
his final definition,"in the Biographia Literaria, Coleridge 
does not commit himself to that conception. The 'second- 
ary imagination ' is, in all its characteristics, essentially a 
faculty of mediate vision ; and its medium is the sensible 
worid. In this respect the creations of the artist differ from 
the systems of the philosopher ; if the power of embodying 
the ideal in sensible forms be granted only to a few, yet the 
capacity to appreciate the concrete embodiment is regarded 
as universal in man. Only in this sphere can the imagina- 

Ixxii hitroditctioii 

tion claim authoritative utterance. Its purely inward 
direction is, therefore, an impossibiht}-, and the attempt so 
to apply it but a form of self-deception. 

Thus Schelling's spiritual intuition of a spiritual reality 
becomes the inerely intellectual apprehension of a bare 
abstraction ; and nature, deprived of its animating principle, 
is opposed to intelligence in an absolute antithesis, of which 
each term precludes and yet necessitates the other. The 
materialistic implications of such a conception were bound, 
sooner or later, to reveal themselves to Coleridge. In 
later N-ears he wrote of the Transcendental Idcalism : ' The 
more I reflect, the more convinced I am of the gross 
materialism of the whole S3'stem I ' ^ The same conviction 
led him, in 1818, to class Schelling with Spinoza among 
the Pantheists ; and this because ' the inevitable result 
of all consequent reasoning in which the intellect refuses 
to acknowledge a higher or deeper ground than it can 
itself suppl}' — and weens to possess within itself the centre 
of its own sj-stem — is Pantheism '.- In all this Coleridge 
is but giving definite expression to the impHcit convictions 
of his early 3'ears, the same convictions which had weaned 
him from the empirically-grounded dogmas of Locke and 
Hartley. The nature of 'this deeper or higher ground of 
things ' had gradually become clearer to him, and at the very 
time when he was writing the BiograpJiia Literaria a more 
exact characterization of the higher functions of intelligence 
was also engaging his thoughts, the outcome of which was 
embodied in The Statcsnian's Manual, published in 181 7. 

In this, the first Lay Sermon, Coleridge is championing 
the same cause as in the Biographia Litvraria, but in another 
field. His foe is still the spirit of materialism, dominating an 
age in which ' faith is either to be buried in the dead letter, 

^ Marginal note on Schelling"s Briefe iiber Dogmatismus und 
Criticisnius (Biog. Lit., 2nd Edition, Appendix). 
^ T/ie Friend, Coleridge's^Works,'ed. Shedd., ii. 470. 


Introdndion Ixxiii 

or its name and honours usurped by the counterfeit pro- 
ducts of the mechanical understanding ' ; and here again the 
distinction between the false rehgion and the true is typified 
in the distinction of fancy and imagination. For while the 
understanding 'in the bhndness of its self-complacency ' is 
content with allegories, which are nothing more than 'the 
translation of abstract notions into a picture-language ' ; 
reh'gion, 'the consideration of the individual, as it exists 
and has its being in the universal/ has need oi symbols for 
its expression. But the faculty of symbols is none other 
than the imagination, 'the reconciHng and mediatory 
power, which incorporates the reason in images of the 
sense, and organizes, as it were, the fluxes of the sense by 
the permanent and self-circHng energies of the reason,' 
To reason, therefore, the organ of * the intuition and the 
immediate spiritual consciousness of God ', imagination is 
related as interpreting in the hght of that consciousness 
the symbolism of the visible world. For of the symbol it 
is further characteristic 'that it always partakes of the 
reahty which it renders intelhgible : and while it enun- 
ciates the whole, abides itself as a Hving part in that unity 
of which it is the representative '. The symbols of imagina- 
tion, in fact, are no tokens arbitrarily selected, but the 
spontaneous expression of the infinite mind in whose being 
it mysteriously shares. 

Thus the imaginative attitude towards nature is indis- 
pensable to a true insight into her meaning, and this 
equally to the poet, the theologian, and the philosopher. 
For a science which is based on the observations of the 
mere understanding can give at best ' a knowledge of 
superficies without substance ', a mere classification of 
phenomena, which regards the unity of things in their 
lunits only. But true natural philosophy ' is comprised in 
the study of the science and language of symbols ', which 
apprehends its objects 'as an actual and essential part of 

ixxiv Introdudion 

that, the whole of which it represents', and sees in the 
silent and unconscious processes of nature * the same 
power as that of reason — the same power in a lower 
dignity, and therefore a symbol estabhshed in the truth of 
things '. Thus the vital unity which the poet reads in the 
outward manifestatioTTs of nature, her apparently chance 
combinations of movement, form, and colour, the philo- 
sopher finds in her inward processes and organization ; 
and in either case the unifj^ing principle is the same. As 
the poet identifies his emotional self with nature, so the 
philosopher contemplates in the world of natural law the 
outward expression of man's rational Hfe ; for * that which 
we find in ourselves is {gradu mtilato) the sum and substance 
of all our knowledge '. The explanation, again, of this 
intimate sympathy and correspondence is for poet and 
philosopher the same : to both it appears as ' a mystery of 
which God is the only solution — God the one before all 
and of all, and through all ! ' ^ 

It is thus evident in what sense, and what sense alone, 
Coleridge can consistently regard the imagination as the 
organ of philosophy. It is not the power of intellectual 
intuition (if by that we mean direct spiritual vision) but the 
faculty of the true apprehension of things sensible as the 
data and material of philosophical reflection : and herein 
lies the connecting link of poetry and philosophy. In 
poetry all effective speculation must begin, for experi- 
ence must alway be interpreted in the light of an 
undemonstrable premise : and well for the philosopher, 
Coleridge would say, to whom imagination, and not fancy, 
supplies that premise ; whose system, like the poet's ideal 
world, is constructed on ' the heaven descended ' ' Know 
thyself ', and on the intuition that in that knowledge he will 
find a key to the meaning of the universe. ' The genuine 
naturalist is dramatic poet in his own line.' ' 
^ First Lay Sernjou. Appendix B. 

Introdnction Ixxv 

Enough has been said to show that Coleridge's faihire to 
complete his deduction of the imagination is not merely 
another instance of his habitual lethargy of purpose. 
How he would have completed it in accordance with his 
more mature convictions is a question not admitting of 
solution, for the attempt was never resumed. We are left 
with his definition of the primary imagination as 'an echo 
of the primary act of creation ', and of the secondary as 
a more highly potentiahzed form of the primary : and the 
meaning of this figurative language we have to unravel as 
we may. But of the primary act of creation, as Coleridge 
conceived it, we know that if it is an act of self-distinction, 
the subject of it is not to be conceived Hke Schelhng^s 
absohite as a dead identity, but as a spirit of hfe and 
love. ' Existence is an eternal and infinite self-rejoicing, 
self-loving, with a joy unfathomable, with a love all 
comprehensive.' ^ It is, then, an analogous impulse which 
we are to look for in the activity of the human imagination, 
whether, in its primary form, it unconsciously draws 
all experience into relation with the self; or, in its 
secondary forra, reflects that self more perfectly in an ideal 
world. The justice of this conception, as regards the 
artistic creation, will readily be conceded. If there is one 
motive common to all genuine poetic impulse, it is surely 
the desire to objectify, and in this object to know and love, 
all that in the individual experience has seemed worthy of 
detachment from the fleeting personal hfe. It is at least 
possible that such was Coleridge's meaning, both in the 
Biograpliia Literaria, and when, years before, he had 
spoken of the imagination 'as a dim analogue of creation '. 

It cannot be said that for that other purpose which 

Coleridge had in view (the establishment of fundamental 

principles of criticism) the metaphysical disquisition of the 

first volume does all that was anticipated of it. At least it 

' Essay XI of The Friend (1818). 

Ixxvi Introduction 

is true that Coleridge himself makes no direct appHcation of 
the conclusions at which he had arrived.^ For the poetical 
criticism of the second part is based, not on the deductions 
of the metaphysician, but on the intuitive insight of the poet: 
and its author owes nothing to SchelHng^s system or 
another's, but everything to the teaching of his own inward 
experience, long ripened into settled convictions. Thus we 
find that his preHminary analysis of the poetic faculty in the 
early chapters of Volume II adds Httle to our knowledge 
of his philosophy of art. Much of it is, in aH probabiHty, 
a resitme of the matter of earHer lectures. Hence it would 
be unprofitable for our purpose to consider, in detail, his 
exposition of the faults and virtues of Wordsworth*s theory 
and practice in poetry. One passage, however, is instructive. 
In justifying the choice of rustic Hfe in his poems, Words- 
worth had spoken of the passions as 'incorporated with the 
beautiful and permanent forms of Nature '. To this Cole- 
ridge repHes, that in the absence of a definite mental and 
moral condition, innate or acquired, natural forms must 
remain indifterent, or worse than indifferent, to those that 
dweH among them ; and that ' the ancient mountains with 
aH their terrors, and aH their glories, are pictures to the 
bHnd, and music to the deaf '.'^ Nor is it without reason 
that he introduces this criticism : to him, indeed, it seems 
to iHustrate 'the point where aH the Hnes of difference 
converge as to their common source and centre '. For he 
regards the influence of nature as among those accidents 
which ' poetry, as poetry, must avoid and exclude ' ; and 

^ This, however, no doubt in part arises from (as it is an 
illustration of) the difficulty, if not impossibility, of applying 
philosophical theories of art to the criticism of any particular 
work of art— a fact to vvhich Schiller draws attention in reference 
to Schellingfs own art-philosophy {Schillefs Correspondence with 
Goethe, ed. Cotta, No. 834). 

'^ So in 1803 {Aninia Poetae, p. 28) he writes:— 'A curious, 
and more than curious fact, that when the country does not 
benefit, it depraves.' 

Introduction Ixxvii 

his protest is at once against a view of poetry which admits 
such accidents among its proper subjects, and a view of 
nature which regards her influence, not as an incidental 
circumstance, but as something essential to the growth of 
a complete and representative character. That Coleridge 
himself believed this view of nature to be Wordsworth's 
own, is hardly to be credited of him. But he vvas 
undoubtedly alive to the danger of a mistaken interpretation 
on the part of others, of the language in which Words- 
vvorth's attitude to nature found expression ; an interpre- 
tation which, if it did not identify nature with the object of 
man's highest spiritual needs, might yet hold her capable 
of supplying the full, if not the only, means to their satis- 
faction. But such an interpretation, which would find its 
psychological correlative in the elevation of imagination to 
the supreme place among the faculties, Coleridge could not 
but regard as a complete reversal of the true order of 

VII. The Essay 'On Poesy or Art '. 

In the year 1818, the necessity of delivering a fresh 
course of lectures gave a new impulse to CoIeridge's 
waning interest in problems of aesthetic. Of these lectures 
(the subject, as announced in the prospectus, is ' Shake- 
speare and Poetic Literature ') but a scanty record has been 

' Cp. Aids to ReJlecHon (Bohn's ed., p. 271), where Coleridge 
distinguishes Wordsworth's langitage from his sense or purpose 
in the well-known lines 

A sense sublime 
Of something far more deeply interfused, &c. 

In a letter to Allsop, referring to this passage in the Biog. Lit., 
Coleridge speaks as if to interpret Wordsworth pantheistically 
were not to misinterpret. One prefers, however, to believe 
that Coleridge's real opinion is that expressed in the Aids to 
Refledion. Yet from Anima Poetae (p. 35) we see that as early 
as 1803 Coleridge was not in entire sympathy with Wordsworth 
on this question. 

ixxviii IntroducHon 

left. In H. N. Coleridge's reproduction of the course in 
the Literary Rcmauis'^ there occurs under Lecture XIII 
an essay 'On Poesy or Art ' which, whether it actually 
formed part of the course or not, must have been composed 
about the same period. This essay contains Coleridge's 
maturest utterance on the subject, though it bears the 
fragmentary and tentative character of all his speculation 
in the region of pure aesthetic. Coleridges language is 
here again largely the language of Schelling ; ^ and here, 
again, as in the Biographia Literaria, the point of diver- 
gence from Schelling is not clearly indicated, and must be 
gathered from other sources. The main object of the 
essay is to define the relation of the true artist to nature. 
\ ' If the artist copies the mere nature, the natitra natiirata ' 
j (we read), 'what idle rivalry ! . . . Believe me, you 

Imust master the essence, the natura natiirans, which pre- 
supposes a bond between nature in the higher sense and 
the soul of man.' And Coleridge thus explains the nature 
of this bond. ' The wisdom in nature is distinguished 
from that in man by the co-instantaneity of the plan and the 
execution ; the thought and the plan are one, or are given 
at once ; but there is no reflex act, and hence there is no 
moral responsibility. In man there is reflexion, freedom, and 
choice ; he is therefore the head of the visible creation. In 
the objects of nature are presented, as in a mirror, all the pos- 
sible elements,steps, and processes of intellect antecedent to 
self-consciousness, and therefore to full developmentofthe 
intelligential act.' Hence there arises an analogy between 
the processes of nature and intelligence, which it is the 
business of the poet (in the widest sense) to interpret ; for 
' so to place these images, totalized, and fitted to the limits 

^ Reprinted by T. Ashe [Lectures, &^c.), pp. 169-487. .. 

^ Coleridge's debt in this Essay to Schelling's L'ber c/as 
Verhciltniss der bildenden Kiinste znr Natur is dealt with in 
the Appendix to Notes and Lectnres on Shakespeare, edited by 
Sara Coleridge, 1849. See notes to present edition. 

Introdndion Ixxix 

of the human mind, as to elicit from and to superinduce 
upon the forms themselves the moral reflexions to which 
they approximate, to make the external internal, the in- 
ternal external, to make nature thought and thought 
nature — this is the mystery of genius in the fine arts '. In 
every work of art * the conscious is so impressed upon the 
unconscious as to appear in it. . . . He who combines the two 
is the man of genius ; and for that reason he must partake 
of both. Hence there is in genius itself an unconscious 
activity ; nay, that is the genius in the man of genius '. 

' But in order to read the symbol accurately, the artist 
must first be familiarwith the thing symboHzed. Hemust 
therefore absent himself for a season from her (nature), in 
order that his own spirit, which has the same ground with 
nature, may learn her unspoken language in its radicals, 
before he approaches to her endless composition of them.' 
Thus only is he fitted for the true interpretation of nature, 
which consists not in copying the external form, but in 
reveaHng 'that which is active through form and figure, 
and discourses to us by symbols — the Naturgcist or spirit of 
nature, as we unconsciously imitate those whom we love'. 

This conception of the essence of art, so far as it is here 
made clear, is certainly in close accord with that of Schel- 
Hng. For 'Art' (says ScheUing, in the " Transcendental 
IdeaHsm ") ' announces perpetuaH}^ and for ever anew that 
which philosophy cannot externally present, the un- 
conscious in action and creation and its original identity 
with the conscious.' . . . ' What we caH nature is a poem, 
which Hes sealed up in a secret and marveUous writing . . .' 
As to the philosopher, so to the artist, nature is but 'the ideal 
world appearing under constant Hmitations, or the imper- 
fect reflection of a world which exists not outside but in 
himself'.^ But ScheUing's point of view in the Transcen- 

^ Already in 1804 Coleridge had written : ' In looking at 
Objects of Nature while I am thinking, as at yonder moon diui- 

Ixxx Introduction 

ci^ntal Idcalisiii is, in its implications, pantheistic and 
materialist, whereas that of Coleridge is avowedly theistic. 
The question therefore arises, Howarewe toreconcile the 
language of this essay, which represents the spirit of man 
as ' one in its radicals with nature ', with Coleridge's theism, 
which regards the divine being as wholly prior, and irrela- 
tive to the existence of the universe (not, as in Schelling's 
view, dependent on that universe for its existence as a 
self ), and man as participating in that being ? Now, if the 
self-consciousness in man is to be reflected in the un- 
conscious life of nature, it is evident that it must be, in its 
essence, one with that life. And to this point of view 
Coleridge seems at first sight to incline. Thus he defines 
self-consciousness as the state in which life and intelligence, 
ascending from the plant upwards, becomes a new kind 
through the difference of degree, and not by essential 
opposition.^ This is also Schelling's standpoint, and it is 
consistent with his conception of nature as the necessary 
correlative of intelligence. This view Coleridge, as we 
saw, attempted in the Biographia Literaria to adapt to his 
theistic conceptions, but without success. And his verdict on 
that attempt, that it was not ' fully thought out ', probably 
applies with equal force to the essay which we are con- 
sidering. Coleridge has not clearly answered the question 
' in what sense we can speak of " natura naturans " ' and 

glimmering through the dewy window-pane, I seem rather to 
be seeking, as it were askiug for, a symbolical language for 
something within me that already and for ever exists, than 
observing anything new, Even when the latter is the case, 
yet still I have always an obscure feeling as if that new 
phenomena were the dim awaking of a forgotten or hidden 
truth of my inner nature ' {Aniina Poetae, p. 136). And else- 
where he wrote (Gillman, Life of Coleridge, p. 309) : ' From 
my very childhood I have been accustomed to abstract and as 
it were unrealize whatever of more than common interest my 
eyes dwelt upon, and then by a sort of transfusion and trans- 
mission of my consciousness to identify myself with the object.' 
^ Letter to Wordsworth, 1815 [Letters, ii. 649). 

Introduction ixxxi 

of the bond existing between it and the soul, if we regard 
on the one hand the divine source of the universe, and on 
the other the ' rational and responsible soul of man ', as 
equally indiflferent to and distinct from that universe itself. 
For the sense of this distinction was already strong in 
Coleridge's mind, and it became stronger as he grew older. 
But the difficulties which it raises were never satisfactorily 
solved.^ In Coleridge's later speculations the sphere and 
functions of art are considered less and less, and the 
imaginative interpretation of nature is never dealt with in 
the light of his maturer insight. 

Not, indeed, that this ' irrelativeness ' of the universe to 
its divine origin precludes its symbolic character. On the 
contrary, as we have seen, the analogy, of which existence 
is undeniable, between the sensible and spiritual worlds, 
is a mystery ' of which God alone is the only solution — 
God the one before all, and of all, and through all ! ' ^ 
And as a mystery (Coleridge would add) it is incapable of 
further definition in the language of the understanding. 
AU that really concerns us here to remember is that the 
participation of the universe in the divine life is neither to 
be conceived as an identitywith that life nor as an essential 
condition of it. Similarly, man's essential characteristic, 
as a self-conscious spirit, is equally independent of his 
natural existence, and equally distinct from that existence, 
seeing that it derives immediately from its spiritual 
source.^ Yet neither does this preclude our regarding 
man, the individual, as the apex and crowning result of the 
process of nature, the concentrated expression of the 
purpose towards which she tends. What man is and 

' Cp. Essay on Life. ^ First Lay Sermon, App. B. 

■ First Lay Sernion, App. B. Cp. Schiller's lines : 
Willst du das Hochste und Beste? Die Pflanze kann es 
dir lehren, 
Was sie willenlos ist, sei du es willens, das isfs. 
See also Coleridge's Essay on Life. 

coleridcf: I I 

ixxxii Introduction 

realizes self-consciously (as a moral being) nature is and 
realizes unconsciously. Hence nature symbolizes the 
spiritual life of man, but cannot originate it. * What the 
plant is by an act not its own and unconsciously — that 
thou must make thyself to become.' And of this un- 
conscious symbolism of nature the man of artistic genius 
is the best interpreter. Both in virtue of his supreme self- 
knowledge and of his peculiar power of sympathy and 
intercommunion with nature, his is the mind best fitted to 
penetrate her hidden meaning, to understand her mute 
appeal, and to make it intelligible to others ; and thus to 
aid nature in the revelation of her spiritual source. ' To 
you alone,' writes Coleridge to Allston in 1815, 'doesit 
seem to have been given to know what nature is — not the 
dead shapes, the outward letter, but nature revealing 
itself in the phenomena, or rather attempting to reveal 
itself Now the povver of producing the true ideals is no 
other, in my behef, than to take the will for the deed. 
The great artist does that which nature would do, if only 
the disturbing forces were abstracted.'^ The entire elimina- 
tion, indeed, of these ' disturbing forces ' is, even to the 
artist, impossible ; but its capacities of matter as a medium 
of spiritual expression are realized in the genuine work of 
art as they are not reahzed in nature itself. And to this 
end the conscious and unconscious activities in the artist 
work together. The unconscious (the genius in the man 
of genius) is, in eflfect, his spontaneous sympathy with the 
hidden purpose of things : the conscious is the self- 
controlled expression of that purpose in individual forms. 
And the harmony of conscious with unconscious (the 

^ Cp. GoGthe, Gesprdc/ie mitEclerfHann, 182B : 'Theartist who 
aims at achieving anything great must be capable . . . of raising 
the inferior, real nature to the height of his own spirit, and 
making that actual vvhich, in the phenomenal world, either from 
inherent weakness or outward obstacle, has remained mere 

Introdnction ixxxiii 

adequacy of execution to intention) constitutes the great 
artist and the perfect work. 

VIII. Later Years. 

The lectures of t8i8 embody Coleridge's last definite 
utterance on the nature of the poetic faculty, even if 
they do not represent his final point of view. From the 
first, as we have seen, his interest in the imagination 
was dominated by the purpose which inspired all his 
serious speculation, the purpose of estabHshing right 
principles of thought and action ; and this primarily by 
the elucidation of the essential nature of human con- 
sciousness, and the distinction of its various constituents, 
or rather, modes of activity, in respect of their value and 
authority as instruments of truth. And as with increasing 
age his sense of aloofness from external things grew 
stronger, and his inward life gained in vividness and depth, 
he reaHzed more and more the paramount importance 
of emphasizing and appeaHng to the purely spiritual con- 
sciousness as a common possession of aU men. Thus 
imagination, as the faculty of mediate vision, is thrust into 
the background, while reason, the faculty of direct 
access to truth, claims a more exclusive attention. 
Aesthetic experience is subordinated to the experience in 
which the intuitionsof reason find their surest witness, the 
* testifying state ' of conscience. This, of course, impHes 
no change of attitude in Coleridge, for the significance of 
the moral consciousness had been among his earliest con- 
victions : but it was in part a result of his own peculiar 
experience that the need for emphasizing this conviction 
grew stronger with the ripening years. To follow out in 
detail the conclusions to which Coleridge was led by this 
altered direction of thought, would exceed the scope of this 
introduction. Their main feature is strikingly illustrated 

f 2 

Ixxxiv Introdiiction 

in the little Essay of Faith, which belongs to the later 
period of his Hfe. In this it is the conscience, and the 
deliverances of conscience, which are represented, not 
merely as common, Hke the impressions of sense, to all 
thinking beings, but as the precondition of all experience. 
The individual, that is, first comes to consciousness of him- 
self in the sense of his relation, as a personal will, to uni- 
versal reason, which is apprehended as the obligation to 
bring the first into harmony with the second. The primary 
act of self-consciousness is not the consciousness of 
opposition to a world of objects, but to a larger spiritual 
self ; and its formula is no longer 'I am ', but rather ' I 
must'. 'The becoming conscious of a conscience is 
an act in and by which we take upon ourselves an allegi- 
ance, and consequently the obHgation of fealty.' ^ 'It is 
Hkewise the commencement of experience, and the resitlt 
of aH other experience. In other words, conscience, in this, 
its simplest form, must be supposed in order to conscious- 
ness, that is, to human consciousness.' 

In thus emphasizing the priority of the moral to aH 
other forms of experience, Coleridge does no more than 
proclaim a Hfelong conviction. It is true that to this ccn- 
viction he had sometimes (as in the disquisition of the 
Biographia Literaria) failed to attach due weight. But this, 
as we have seen, was one of the direct causes of the 
breaking-down in the chain of arguments by which he 
sought to estabHsh the true nature of the imagination. 
For the distinguishing characteristic of that faculty, as 
from the first conceived by Coleridge, had been its power 
of interpreting the world of experience as a manifestation 
of a spiritual principle. And the possibility of such an 

^ With this compare and contrast ScheUing {Werkc, i. 395) : 
' Only in willing is the mind directly conscious of its own 
activity, and the act of volition is the highest condition of self- 

Introdiidion ixxxv 

insight was dependent upon a previous spiritual experience 
of which it was the symbol and guarantee. 

The imagination thus appears as essentially alHed to the 
moral consciousness ; and art is the visible symbol of this 
relationship. For the imagination, as creative artistically, 
does but seek to give outward expression to the harmony 
of the personal and divine will, which conscience enjoins, 
or to the discord between them,which conscience condemns. 
This thought is characteristically expressed by Coleridge 
in commenting on a passage in an early work by SchelHng, 
where it is asserted that the conception of a moral power 
outside of and above the world of sense is destructive of 
the aesthetic attitude towards that world. ' Der Gedanke, 
mich der Welt entgegenzusetzen (the thought of opposing 
myself to the world), not only hat nichts Grosses fiir mich 
(contains nothing elevating for me), but seems mere pot- 
vahant nonsense, without the idea of a moral power 
extrinsic to and above the world. . . . How much more 
subUme and, in other points of view, how infinitely more 
beautiful, is the Hebrew idea of the world as at enmity 
with God, and of the continual warfare which calls forth 
every energy, both of act and endurance, from the neces- 
sary vividness of worldly impressions, and the sensuous 
dimness of faith in the first struggles ! Were the 
impulses and impresses from the faith in God equally 
vivid, then indeed all combat must cease, and we 
should have Hallelujahs for tragedies and statues.' ^ 
This is, perhaps, the fullest expression which Coleridge 
has left of the main point of difiference between himself and 
Schelling, and it is much to be regretted that the conception 
of the function of art which it indicates was never more 
fully developed by him. 

A few concluding remarks are suggested by Coleridge's 

1 Marginal Note to Schelling's Phil. Briefe iiber Dogmatismus 
u. Kriticistuus (printed Biog. Lit.,2\\d Edition, Vol. I, Appendix). 

Ixxxvi Introdiidioit 

use of the term 'faculty'. It is, perhaps, natural to con- 
clude that because this term was so much on his hps he 
consciously committed himself to all the impHcations of the 
so-called ' faculty-psychology * ; and no doubt his loose 
mode of speaking of the reason, the understanding, or the 
imagination, as alone active in this or that kind of know- 
ledge or apprehension, lends countenance to such a 
conclusion. It is necessary, therefore, to reahze, first, 
that Coleridge did not beheve in any such detached activity 
of the various faculties, as a physiological or psychological 
fact.* Secondly, that although he could conceive of the 
mind as limiting itself, by its own free act, to a partial 
aspect of reality and to a partial self-activity, he saw 
that sueh an act, where it was not consciously recognized as 
an act of limitation, might be a fruitful source of error. 
'As every faculty,' he wrote in 1818, 'with even the 
minutest organ of our nature, owes its whole reality and 
comprehensibility to an existence incomprehensible and 
groundless, because the ground of all comprehension ; not 
without the union of all that is essential in all the functions 
of our spirit, not without an emotion tranquil from its very 
intensity, shall we worthily contemplate in the magnitude 
and integrity of the world that life-ebullient stream which 
breaks through every momentary embankment, again, 
indeed, and evermore to embank itself, but within no banks 
to stagnate and be imprisoned.' And the distinction of 
reason and understanding, of imagination and fancy, is 
not the distinction of more or less perfect instruments of 
knowledge, existing in mysterious detachment from one 
another, but of a more or less complete activity of the self 
by which these faculties are informed.'^ This activity is 
reason in the highest sense of theword, 'the integral spirit 
of the regenerated man.' Without its presence reason 

^ Cp. Table Talk, July 29, 1830. 

"^ The Fricud. Coleridge's Work, cd. Shedd., II. 

Introdii ction 1 x xx vii 

itself becomes understanding, and imagination degenerates 
into fancy, ' whose objects are essentially fixed and dead '} 

In thus insisting on the solidarity of the higher functions 
of intelligence, Coleridge is protesting at once against a 
philosophy which makes intellect the measure of all things, 
and a reHgion which divorces itself from reason and imagina- 
tion. The vague emotionahsm of the evangeHst, with 
its distrust of philosophy and art, seemed no less than the 
dogmatism of the rationalist or materialist, a denial of 
fundamental facts of spiritual experience. In his reaction 
against these partial attitudes to truth there might seem a 
danger that Coleridge should have been forced into an 
attitude equally partial : that he should have constructed 
a religion of the beautiful, and made the imagination its 
supreme interpreter. But the same insight which detected 
the inadequacy of the views that he attacked protected 
Coleridge from a like one-sidedness in his own. The 
means to human salvation must, he saw, be a common 
possession of humanity. Its attainment must demand the 
exercise, not of this or that isolated faculty, but of the real 
and undivided self, whose presence or absence in the 
operations of the various faculties renders them either 
fruitful or barren of truth. 

The recognition of this vital fact it is which constitutes 
the philosophical significance of Coleridge's theory of 
imagination, and especially of his distinction of imagination 
from fancy. But his theory is equally significant in the 
narrower domain of art and artistic criticism, though the 
want of systeni and completeness in its presentation may 
make the student apt to underrate its significance. 

For by his lifelong vindication of the truth, that the 
activity of imagination is determined subjectively by the 
laws of our common reason, and objectively by the truth of 

^ See The Siatesmati^s Manual, Appendix C (Bohn's Library, 
P- 343)- 

Ixxxviii Introdiidion 

things, and thus diiFers essentially from the accidental and 
seemingly capricious ^ combinations of fancy, Coleridge ren- 
dered an invaluable service to the cause of criticism, both 
in his own day and for all time. The anarchy of taste which 
followed the shattering of the old idols was even a more 
dangerous enemy to art than they had been. The critics of 
Coleridge's day, having emancipated themselves from the 
'classical' tradition, were forced by a natural reaction into 
the opposite extreme of lawlessness. While, on the other 
hand, they tended to regard every work of art as some- 
thing entirely pecuhar and generis siii, unrelated and self- 
complete : on the other they looked upon their personal 
likes and dishkes as carrying their own authority, and 
therefore as adequate criteria of appreciation. For the 
irresponsible dogmatism of such a standpoint Coleridge 
substituted a truly critical criticism — that is, a criticism 
based on principles whose ground is our common 
nature, whose organ is * universal reason, the true common 
sense of mankind'. 

It is instructive in this connexion to compare Cole- 
ridge's aesthetic position with that of German romanticism, 
which finds its most characteristic exposition in the 
writings of Friedrich von Schlegel. From Schlegers 
Disconrse qf Poetry (1800) we learn that 'as every man has 
his own nature and his own love, so does he carry his 
own poetry in himself; and further, 'the opinion of every 
man (as regards poetry) is true and good, in so far as it is 
itself poetry.' Finally, we read further on that 'it is the 
beginning of all poetry to aboHsh the laws and methods of 
the rationally proceeding reason, and to plunge us once 
more into the ravishing confusions of fantasy, the original 
chaos of human nature '.- 

^ Not that the operations of fancy are actually lawless : they 
are individiiaUy necessar}', but universally they are contingent. 

- See Tomaschek, Scliiller n. die IVissettschaft. Compare 
with this Coleridge's aphorism of 1804 {Anima Poctae, p. 96) : 

Introduction Ixxxix 

Here we have, indeed, the culminating expression of the 
anarchy of revolt, and nothing could illustrate better the 
wide difference between the principles of EngHsh and 
German romanticism than a comparison of Coleridge's atti- 
tude with that of Schlegel. If, indeed, we would seek a true 
parallel to Coleridge among German contemporaries, we 
must seek it neither in the Schlegels, nor Fichte, nor yet 
in Schelling, but rather in the poet Schiller.^ The con- 
viction around which Schiller's aesthetic theories centred, 
and which brought him into antagonism with the doctrinaire 
of the romantic school, is the same which (as we saw) lay 
nearest also to Coleridge's heart : the conviction that ' no 
kind of imagination can be called truly artistic, save such 
as proceeds according to objective and universally valid 
laws '. And Coleridge's teacher had been Schiller's also. 
On Kantean foundations they had builded, each after his 
own fashion ; and if, in completeness and consistency, 
Coleridge's achievement cannot compare with that of 
Schiller's, yet, viewed in relation to the public which hc 
addressed, it is, perhaps, of even greater significance. Not, 
indeed, that its significance is historical merely. Cole- 
ridge's message is not one which any age is likely to find 
irrelevant or superfluous : and the critic or artist who runs 
counter to its spirit will do so at his own peril. 

* Idly talk. they who speak of poets as indulgers of fancy, 
imagination, superstitipn, &c. They are the bridlersby delight, 
the purifiers ; they that combine all these with reason and order 
— the true protoplasts — Gods of Love who tame the chaos.' 

^ Coleridge had no doubt made some acquaintance with 
Schiller's principal aesthetical works ; but I cannot discover 
evidence of a real familiarity with the leadingideasof Schiller's 



The genesis of the Biographia Litcraria is a matter of 
some obscurity, but the following facts may help to illu- 
minate it. In March, 1815, Coleridge wrote to Cottle ^ 
that he had ' collected his scattered and manuscript poems, 
sufficient to make one volume '. He spoke nothing, how- 
ever, of a preface. But in May of the same year, in 
a letter to Wordsworth, he remarks incidentally, ' I have 
only to finish a preface, which I shall have done in two, 
or at farthest three days.' What the contents of this pre- 
face may have been (whether critical, or autobiographical, 
or both) cannot be determined ; but in it lay the germ of 
the Biographia. 

This is the first stage. Two months later, we find 
Coleridge writing to Dr. Brabant that he has been kept 
to his study by the necessity of enlarging what originally 
was intended ' as a preface to an " Autobiographia Literaria, 
Sketches of my Literary Life and Opinions ", so far as 
poetry and poetical criticisms are concerned.' From this 
it appears that the original preface was either conceived 
as a literary autobiography, or very soon took that form : 
and that this biography itself came to demand a preface. 
In extending this preface Coleridge's object was to in- 
clude *a full account (raisonne) of the controversy con- 
cerning Wordsworth's poems and theory ', and some part 
at least of '^a disquisition on the powers of association . . . 
and on the generic difiference between the Fancy and the 
Imagination '.^ But the preface, thus augmented, proved 
too long to serve as a preface, and had to be incorporated 

^ Cottle, Reni., p. 387. " See Westm. Review, Apr. 1870. 

Supplementary Note xci 

in the whole work. In August, 1815, the first instalment 
of manuscript was sent to the printers (Messrs. John 
Evans and Co., of Bristol), who had agreed to pubHsh 
one volume of autobiographical matter, and one of poetry. 
But while the printing was in progress, Coleridge, misled, 
as he says, by his printer's assurances, continued to write 
and write until he had prepared more matter than a single 
volume could hold.^ 

In October he tells Stuart that he has sent the manuscript 
of the Life and the poems to the printer, and is turning to 
other tasks. But no final arrangement as to the form of 
publication was reached until April of the next year{i8i6), 
when it was agreed to publish the work in three volumes, 
the Biographia to make two.'^ Soon afterwards, however, 
a dispute arose between Coleridge and his printers, which 
lasted for many months, and eventually resulted in his 
transferring the whole of the printed matter to Messrs. 
Gale and Fenner, of London.^ Meantime fresh causes of 
delayarose. Thesecond volume was not yet long enough, 
and its completion was interrupted by differences with 
the new publishers. On September 22, 1816, Coleridge 
writes, ' I will commence next week with the matter which 
I have been forced by the blunder and false assurance of 
the printer to add to the literary Lifc, in order to render 
the volumes of something like the same size.' This fresh 
matter (which is contained in Vol. II, Chapter xxii) con- 
sisted of an appreciation of Wordsworth's poetry, which 
was thus severed by more than a year from the chapters 
dealing with the theory of poetic diction. As the second 

' See the Life, p. 212, footnote. Mr. Dykes Campbell bases 
his conclusions on some unprinted letters which I have not seen. 

"^ Lfe, p. 223. 

^ Ib., p. 227. The actual transfer did not take place till May, 
1817, but the negotiations with the London publishers were 
already going on in the summer of 1816. See Lippincotts Mag., 
June, 1874 ('Some Unpublished Letters of S. T. Coleridge ').' 

xcii SiLpplenieiitary Note 

volume was still too small, it was at first proposed to ' fill 
the gap ' with the newly-finished Zapolya : but finally the 
German letters were chosen, ' as in every respect more 
appropriate.'^ To these were added the ' Critique on 
Bertram ', which had ah'eady appeared in five numbers of 
the Couner {Aug. 29 and Sept. 7, 9, 10, and 11, 1816) ; a 
concluding chapter was appended, a few introductory pages 
prefixed ; and thus, in the late summer of 1817,'^ ^he Bio- 
gmphia Literaria finally struggled into life. 

The circumstances of its production are thus sufficient to 
explain why the Biographia Literaria should be the ' im- 
methodical miscellany' which Coleridge himself styles it. 
Further, we must remember that at the time of its compo- 
sition Coleridge's health and spirits had sunk to their 
lowest ebb. Even if there was any definite project in his 
mind, he was hardly in a fit state to carry it out. Yet 
among the various motives and ' states of mind ' which are 
expressed in the miscellaneous character of the book one 
motive was, I believe, especially predominant — the desire, 
on CoIeridge's part, to state clearly, and defend adequately, 
his own poetic creed. This purpose is more or less evi- 
dent throughout the work, and to this it owes what unity 
it can be said to possess. It is with this end in view that, 
in the autobiographical portion of the book, he describes 
the growth of his own literar}^ convictions ; that, in the 
philosophical, he seeks to refer them to first principles; and 
that, in the criticism of Wordsworth's poetry and poetic 
theory, he emphasizes the difterences which, as he ima- 
gines, exist between Wordsworth and himself. Regarded 
in this light, even Satyrane's letters and the ' Critique on 
Bertram ' are not wholly out of place ; for they illustrate 
the continuity of his opinions. 

' Lippincotfs Mag., ib. 

- The actual month was July, not March, as Mr. Dykes 
Campbell, by an unusual oversight, states. 

Snpplementary Nofe xciii 

This desire on Coleridge's part was both just and 
natural. More than fifteen years had elapsed since 
Wordsworth had expounded his theory of poetry. The 
views then made pubHc were in great measure the fruit of 
long and frequent discussions with Coleridge ; but, as 
they stand in the Prcface, they by no means wholly coin- 
cided with Coleridge's own opinions. When the second 
edition of the Lyrical Ballads appeared in 1802, Coleridge 
felt it necessary to remove the current impression that the 
language of the Preface represented his own standpoint as 
well as Wordsworth's. This purpose he effected privately, 
in letters written to his friends ^ ; and publicly he proposed 
to effect it also, by stating at large, in a volume of selec- 
tions from contemporary poets, his views on the true 
nature of poetry. Of this project he writes to Southey in 
1802, ' Of course, Darwin and Wordsworth having given 
each a defence of their mode of poetry, and a disquisition 
on the nature and essence of poetry in general, I shall 
necessarily be led rather deeper.' But the project came 
to nothing, and Coleridge remained content, for fourteen 
years, to circulate his views in private, or at best through 
the medium of lectures. Meanwhile, however, the need 
for their expression had not decreased, but had grown 
tenfold more imperative. For not only had critics and 
public continued to include Coleridge, as a matter of course, 
in their estimate of Wordsworth's poetry and theories, but 
Wordsworth's own meaning had been grossly misunder- 
stcod, and often enough as wilfully misinterpreted. ' This 
slang ' (of affected simplicity and meanness of thought and 
diction) ' has gone on for fourteen or fifteen years against 
us,' writes Coleridge in 1813, ' and really desei^ves to be 
exposed."^ And he felt no doubt that all things pointed 
to him as the right person to undertake the task. Yet 

^ See note to Biog. Lit., vol. ii, p. 7, 1. 34. 
"' Letters, p. 607. The italics are mine. 

xciv Supplementary Note 

(and the fact is characteristic) it was not until he had 
gathered up energy enough to prepare a new edition of his 
poems, that he was led, half incidentally, to prepare the 
long-needed vindication. 

There is thus no doubt that Coleridge had sufficiency 
of motives for his desire to enlighten the public as to his 
conception of the real nature and functions of poetry. 
But the question still suggests itself, how far the actual 
tone and spirit of the critique is explained or justified by 
these motives. It cannot indeed be fairly contended that 
CoIeridge's criticisms, considered as criticisms of the views 
explicitly laid down in the Preface, are wholly unjust or 
beside the mark. In the attempt to state his position 
philosophically, Wordsworth was undoubtedly betrayed 
into fallacies, and it was right that these fallacies should 
be exposed, the more so that they bore the authority of 
Wordsworth's name. But while Coleridge was thus ren- 
dering an important service to the public, there lay open 
to him the opportunity of rendering a service more im- 
portant still ; and that was, of making clear the real pur- 
pose which Wordsworth had at heart in writing his Preface. 
That Coleridge has accomplished this task in his critique, 
the most sympathetic reader will hardly be prepared to 
admit. Here and there, indeed, he has indicated Words- 
worth's true position ; ^ but he has not made it the basis of 
his criticism. Yet this he might have done without neglect- 
ing the errors into which Wordsworth undoubtedly did fall ; 
and these would then have appeared in their true light, not 
as contradictions of Wordsworth's unconscious practice, 
but as the results of an imperfect self-analysis. Coleridge's 
failure to make this use of this opportunity is to be re- 

^ Cp. e.g. Biog. Lit. ii, pp. 28 and 69. It is worthy of notice 
that Coleridge nowhere in his criticism of the Preface upholds 
the position which it is the object of the Preface to overthrow — 
viz., that there should exist a distinct poetic vocabulary . 

Supplementary Note xcv 

gretted ; not only because it contributed to the general mis- 
understanding of Wordsworth's position, but also because 
it raises the suspicion that Coleridge wrote under the 
influence of personal feelings, of a mind embittered by 
estrangement and misinterpretation.^ Something at least 
must have occurred to pervert Coleridge's vision, if he 
could really beHeve that in his criticisms in the Biographia 
Literaria he was serving Wordsworth's cause (and this 
cause was his own also) to the best of his abiHty. And he 
does appear to have been fuHy contented with what he 
had written. ' I have done my duty to myself and to the 
pubHc,' he writes to a friend,^ 'in, as I beHeve, completely 
subverting the theory, and proving that the poet never 
acted upon it except in particular instances, which are the 
blots upon his poetry.' So Coleridge judged, and judged 
no doubt honestly. Others, however, will feel that the 
claims of the public would have been more fully satisfied 
had they been set right, once for all, as to Wordsworth's 
aim : and Coleridge's duty to himself more adequately 
realized, if he had been instrumental in rendering this 
service to his friend. 

In the same letter Coleridge anticipates Wordsworth's 
displeasure at the criticisms of his theory and poetry. In 
this, at any rate, he judged rightly. To Crabb Robinson 
Wordsworth confided that ' the Biographia Lifcraria had 
given him no pleasure. The praise he considered ex- 
travagant, and the censure inconsiderate '." Yet many of 
the passages, which Coleridge had singled out for censure, 
Wordsworth afterwards altered, in deference, no doubt, to 
the views expressed by Coleridge. The changes thus 

^ Cp. Crabb Robinson, Diary, &c., Dec. 21, 1822 : ' Of Words- 
worth I believe Coleridge judges under personal feelings of 

^ ' Unpublished Letters of S. T. Coleridge,' Westm. Review, 
April and July, 1870. 

'• Crabb Robinson, Diary, &-T., Dec. 4, 1817. 

xcvi Siipplemeniary Note 

introduced are, in the opinions of the best critics, for the 
most part infelicitous, and detrimental to the whole efifect 
of the poems in which they occur. In this fact we may be 
inclined to see at once a sign that Coleridge was wrong in 
criticizing the passages adversely, and that Wordsworth, 
in altering them, did so against his better judgement. But 
it certainly does not prove that Wordsworth's conception 
of poetry was a juster one than Coleridge's. For the 
altered passages illustrate a principle which both poets 
equally upheld. They fail, that is, not because they 
substitute for prosaic language a diction remote from prose, 
but because they embody a less poetic content, and spring 
from a less inspired mood. And the truth which they 
thus exemplify is that the distinction of real importance 
for poet and critic must be conceived as a distinction of 
origin ; that it is, in CoIeridge's own language, the distinc- 
tion of ' form as proceeding from shape as superinduced',' 
Had Coleridge duly emphasized his unanimity with 
Wordsworth on this fundamental principle, he could have 
afforded to pass more lightly over their real or imagined 
points of difference. 


The edition of 1817, ofwhich the present is a complete 
reprint, was the only one published in England during 
CoIeridge's lifetime. A second edition, with appendices 
and annotations, was prepared by H. N. Coleridge, and 
after his death completed by his wife, with the addition 
of a lengthy apologetic introduction. This edition ap- 
peared in 1847. A third, based upon that of 1817, was 
published in Bohn's Standard Library in 1866, and has 
been reprinted frequently ; and a fourth edition (based 
apparently on the second) appeared in Messrs. Dent's 

^ See the Essay ' On Poesy or Art '. 

Siipplementary Nofe xcvii 

Everyman's Library in 1905. In America editions were 
published in 181 7 (simultaneously vvith the English edition), 
in 1834, and in 1843. 

The original edition (besides numerous misprints, more 
or less obvious) contains many peculiarities of spelling, 
which can hardly be laid at the printer's door. Neither 
this orthography, nor the frequent use of italics and 
capitals, has been strictly respected by later editors. But 
they are all characteristic of Coleridge, and as such deserve 
to be retained. At times, however, it has been difficult to 
discriminate between the printer's errors and Coleridge's 


'Biogtapbia JLiteraria 




ISiograpi^iral Sfeftri^fs 




VOL. 1. 







Biograpliical Sketches 



So wenig er auch bestimmt seyn mag, andere zu belehren, so wiinscht 
er doch sich denen mitzutheilen, die er sich gleichgesinntweiss oder hofft, 
deren Anzahl aber in der Breite der Welt zerstreut ist : er wiinscht sein 
Verhaltniss zu den altesten Freunden dadurch wieder anzukniipfen, mit 
neuen es fortzusetzen, und in der letzten Generation sich wieder andere 
fiir seine iibrige Lebenszeit zu gewinnen. Er wtinscht der Jugend die 
Umwege zu ersparen, auf denen er sich selbst verirrte. 


Translation. Little call as he may have to instruct others, he wishes 
nevertheless to open out his heart to such as he either knows or hopes to 
be of hke mind with himself, but who are widely scattered in the world : 
he wishes to knit anew his connexions with his oldest friends, to continue 
those recently formed, and to win other friends among the rising gener- 
ation for the remaining course of his life. He wishes to spare the }'Oung 
those circuitous paths, on which he himself had lost his way. 




The motives of the present work — Reception of the Author's first 
publication — The discipline of his taste at school — The effect 
of conteniporary writers on youthful mincls — Bowles's sonnets — 
Comparison between the Poets before and since Mr. Pope. 

It has been my lot to have had my name introduced, both 
in conversation, and in print, more frequently than I find 
it easy to explain, whether I consider the fewness, unim- 
portance, and Hmited circulation of my writings, or the 

5 retirement and distance in which I have Uved, both from 
the literary and political world. Most often it has been 
connected with some charge which I could not acknowledge, 
or some principle which I had never entertained. Neverthe- 
less, had I had no other motive or incitement, the reader 

lo would not have been troubled with this exculpation. What 
my additional purposes were, will be seen in the foUowing 
pages. It will be found, that the least of what I have 
written concerns myself personally. I >iavpn<;prl |hf narra. 
tion ^hiffl ^' fnr tlr^ purpnsp '^f pi¥'"fT '"' ''■'""^^'^"^^-v ^'^ ^^ ^ 

15 work, in part fnr \hp. sakft of the miscellaneou s r^flertion.s 
suggested to me byparticular events , but still more as in»_ 
trnrlnrtnrY tn fVip <;tf;|tpr nent of mv principles iu Pohtics, 
Rehgion, and Philosophy, and an appHcation of the rules, 
deduced from philosophical principles, to poetry and criti- 

20 cism. But of the objects, which I proposed to myself, it 
was not the least important to effect, as far as possible, 
a settlement of the long continued controversy concerning 
the true nature of poetic diction ; and at the same time to 
define with the utmost impartiality the real poetic character 


2 Biographia Literaria ch. i 

of the poet, by whose writings this controversy was first 
kindled, and has been since fuelled and fanned. 

In 1794, when I had barely passed the verge of man- 
hood, I pubUshed a small volume of juvenile poems. 
They were received with a degree of favor, which, young 5 
as I was, I well know was bestowed on them not so much 
for any positive merit, as because they were considered 
buds of hope, and promises of better works to come. (Xhe 
critics of that day, the most fiattering equally with the 
severest, concurred in objecting to them obscurity, a gene- 10 
ral turgidness of diction, and a profusion of new coined 
double epithets '^. ) The first is the fault which a writer is the 
least able to detect in his own compositions : and my mind 
was not then sufficiently discipHned to receive the authority 
of others, as a substitute for my own conviction. Satisfied 15 
that the thoughts, such as they were, could not have been 

* The authority of Milton and Shakespeare may be usefuUy 
pointed out to young authors. In the Comus, and other early 
Poems of Milton there is a superftuity of double epithets ; while 
in the Paradise Lost we find very few, in the Paradise Regained 
scarce any. The same remark holds almost equally true of the 
Love's Labour's Lost, Romeo and Juliet, Venus and Adonis, and 
Lucrece, compared with the Lear, Macbeth, Othello, and Ham- 
let of our great Dramatist. The rule for the admission of 
double epithets seems to be this : either that they should be 
alreadydenizensof ourLanguage, such as blood-stained, terror- 
stricken, self-applauding: or when a new epithet, or one found 
in books only, is hazarded, that it, at least, be one word, not 
two words made one by mere virtue of the printer's hyphen. 
A language which, like the EngUsh, is almost without cases, 
is indeed in its very genius unfitted for compounds. If a writer, 
every time a compounded word suggests itself to him, would 
seek for some other mode of expressing the same sense, the 
chances are always greatly in favor of his finding a better 
word. "Tanquam scopulum sic vites insolens verbum," 
is the wise advice of Caesar to the Roman Orators, and the 
precept apphes with double force to the writers in our own 
language. But it must not be forgotten, that the same Csesar 
wrote a grammatical treatise for the purpose of reforming the 
ordinary language by bringing it to a greater accordance with 
the principles of Logic or universal Grammar. 

CH. I 

Biographia Literaria 

expressed otherwise, or at least more perspicuously, I forgot 
to enquire, whether the thoughts themselves did not demand 
a degree of attention unsuitable to the nature and objects 
of poetry. This remark however apphes chiefiy, though 
5 not exclusively, to the Religious Musings. The remainder 
of the charge I admitted to its full extent, and not without 
sincere acknowledgments both to my private and pubHc 
censors for their friendly admonitions. In the after edi- 
tions, I pruned the double epithets with no sparing hand, 

lo and used my best efforts to tame the swell and ghtter both 
of thought and diction ; though in truth, these parasite 
plants of youthful poetry had insinuated themselves into 
my longer poems with such intricacy of union, that I was 
often obhged to omit disentanghng the weed, from the fear 

15 of snapping the flower, From that period to the date of 
the present work I have pubhshed nothing, with my name, 
which could by any possibihty have come before the board 
of anonymous criticism. Even the three or four poems, 
printed with the works of a friend, as far as they were cen- 

2 sured at all, were charged with the same or similar defects, 
though I am persuaded not with equal justice : with an 


ATE DiCTiON. ( Vide the criticisms on the "Ancient Mariner " 
in the Monthly and Critical Reviews of the first volume of 

25 the Lyrical Ballads.) May I be permitted to add, that, 
even at the early period of my juvenile poems, I saw and 
admitted the superiority of an austerer and more natural 
style, with an insight not less clear, than I at present possess. 
My judgement was stronger, than were my powers of reahzing 

30 its dictates ; and the faults of my language, though indeed 
partly owing to a wrong choice of subjects, and the desire of 
giving a poetic colouring to abstract and metaphysical 
truths, in which a new world then seemed to open upon me, 
did yet, in part hkewise, originate in unfeigned diffidence of 

35 my own comparative talent. — During several years of my 

B 2 

Biographia Literaria 

CH. I 

youth and early manhood, I reverenced those, who had re- 
introduced the manly simphcity of the Greek, and of our 
own elder poets, with such enthusiasm as made the hope 
seem presumptuous of writing successfully in the same style. 
Perhaps a similar process has happened to others ; but my 5 
earhest poems were marked by an ease and simphcity, 
which I have studied, perhaps with inferior success, to im- 
press on my later compositions. 

At school I enjoyed the inestimable advantage of 
a very sensible, though at the same time a very severe 10 
master. He * early moulded my taste to the preference 
of Demosthenes to Cicero, of Homer and Theocritus 
to Virgil, and again of Virgil to Ovid. He habituated 
me to compare Lucretius, (in such extracts as I then read) 
Terence, and above all the chaster poems of Catullus, not 15 
only with the Roman poets of the, so called, silver and 
brazen ages ; but with even those of the Augustan era : 
and on grounds of plain sense and universal logic to see and 
assert the superiority of the former in the truth and native- 
ness, both of their thoughts and diction. At the same time 20 
that we were studying the Greek Tragic Poets, he made us 
read Shakespeare and Milton as lessons : and they were the 
lessons too, which required most time and trouble to hring 
;>. ^i^p, so as to escape his censure. I learnt from him, that 
^''^vi. fPoetry, even that of the loftiest and, seemingly, that of the 25 
y^'^ j/ r^ildest odes, 


had a logic of its own, as severe as that of 
science ; and more difhcult, because more subtle, more 
complex, and dependent on more, and more fugitive causes. 
In the truly great poets, he would say, there is a reason 
assignable, not only for every word, but for the position of 3° 
every word ; and I well remember that, avaihng himself of 
the synonimes to the Homer of Didjonus, he made us 
attempt to show, with regard to each, why it would not 

* The Rev. James Bowyer, many years Head Master of the 
Grammar School, Chrisfs Hospital. 

CH. I 

Biographia Literaria ^\ 

have answered the same purpose ; and wherein consisted 
the peculiar fitness of the word in the original text. 

In our own EngHsh compositions, (at least for the last 
three years of our school education,) he shqwed no mercy to 
5 phrase, metaphor, or image, unsupported by a sound sens^ 
or where the same sense might have been conveyed with 
equal force and dignity in plainer words. Lute, harp, and 
lyre, muse, muses, and inspirations, Pegasus, Parnassus, and 
Hippocrene were all an abomination to him. In fancy 

10 I can almost hear him now, exclaiming " Harp ? Harp ? 
Lyre ? Pen and ink, boy, you mean ! Muse, boy, Muse ? 
Your Nurse's datighter, you mean ! Pierian spring ? Oh aye h 
the cloister-pump, I suppose ! " Na y» certain in troductions,! 
similes, and exam ples, were placed bv name on a list o f 

15 interd iction^ Among the similes, there was, I remember, 
that of the Manchineel fruit, as suiting equally well with too 
many subjectsT~tn-Avhich however it yielded the palm at 
once to the example of Alexander and Clytus, which was 
equally good and apt, whatever might be the theme. Was 

20 it ambition ? Alexander and Clytus ! — Flattery ? Alexan- 
der and Clytus ! — Anger ? Drunkenness ? Pride ? Friend- 
ship ? Ingratitude ? Late repentance ? StiU, still Alexan- 
der and Clytus ! At length, the praises of agriculture having 
been exemphfied in the sagacious observation, that, had 

35 Alexander been holding the plough, he would not have run 
his friend Clytus through with a spear, this tried and 
serviceable old friend was banished by pubhc edict in 
secula seculorum. I have sometimes ventured to think, 
that a list of this kind, or an index expurgatorius of certain 

30 well known and ever returning phrases, both introductory, 
and transitional, including a large assortment of modest 
egoisms, and fiattering illeisms, &c., &c., might be hung up 
in our law-courts, and both houses of parliament, with 
great advantage to the public, as an important saving of 

35 national time,an incalculable reUef to his Majesty's ministers, 


Biographia Literaria 

CH. 1 

but above all, as insuring the thanks of country attornies, 
and their dients, who have private bills to carry through the 

Be this as it may, there was one custom of our master's, 
which I cannot pass over in silence, because I think it imit- 5 
able and worthy of imitation. He would often permit our 
exercises, under some pretext of want of time, to accumulate, 
till each lad had four or five to be looked over. Then plac- 
ing the whole number abreast on his desk, he would ask the 
writer, why this or that sentence might not have found as 10 
appropriate a place under this or that other thesis : and if 
no satisf ying answer could be returned, and two f aults of the 
same kind were found in one exercise, the irrevocable ver- 
dict followed, the exercise was torn up, and another on the 
same subject to be produced, in addition to the tasks of the 15 
day. The reader will, I trust, excuse this tribute of recol- 
lection to a man, whose severities, even now, not seldom 
furnish the dreams, by which the bhnd fancy would fain 
interpret to the mind the painful sensations of distempered 
sleep ; but neither lessen nor dim the deep sense of my 20 
moral and intellectual obhgations. He sent us to the 
University excellent Latin and Greek scholars, and tolerable 
Hebraists. Yet our classical knowledge was the least of the 
good gifts, which we derived from his zealous and conscien- 
tious tutorage. He is now gone to his final reward, full of 25 
years, and fuU of honors, even of those honors, which 
were dearest to his heart, as gratefully bestowed by that 
school, and still binding him to the interests of that school, 
in which he had been himself educated, and to which during 
his whole hfe he was a dedicated thing. 30 

From causes, which this is not the place to investigate, 
no models of past times, however perfect, can have the same 
vivid effect on the youthful mind, as the productions of con- 
temporary genius. The DiscipHne, my mind had under- 
gone, "Ne falleretur rotundo sono et versuum cursu, con- 35 

CH. I Biographia Literaria 7 

cinnis et floribus ; sed ut inspiceret quidnam subesset, quae 
sedes, quod firmamentum, quis fundus verbis ; an figurae 
essent mera ornatura et orationis fucus ; vel sanguinis e 
materise ipsius corde efifluentis rubor quidam nativus et 
5 incalescentia genuina;" removed all obstacles to the 
appreciation of excellence in style without diminishing 
my delight. That I was thus prepared for the perusal of 
Mr. Bowles's sonnets and earher poems, at once increased 
their influence, and my enthusiasm. The great works of 

10 past ages seem to a young man things of another race, in 
respect to which his faculties must remain passive and 
submiss, even as to the stars and mountains. But the 
writings of a contemporary, perhaps not many years older 
than himself, surrounded by the same circumstances, and 

15 disciphned by the same manners, possess a reality for him, 
and inspire an actual friendship as of a man for a man. 
His very admiration is the wind which fans and feeds his 
hope. The poems themselves assume the properties of 
flesh and blood. To recite, to extol, to contend for them 

20 is but the payment of a debt due to one, who exists to 
receive it. 

There are indeed modes of teaching which have produced, 
and are producing, youths of a very different stamp ; modes 
of teaching, in comparison with which we have been called 

25 on to despise our great pubhc schools, and universities 

"in whose halls are hung 
Armoury of the invincible knights of old" — 

modes, by which children are to be metamorphosed into 
prodigies. And prodigies with a vengeance have I known 
30 thus produced ! Prodigies of self-conceit, shallowness, arro- 
gance, and infidehty ! Instead of storing the memory, 
during the period when the memory is the predominant 
faculty, with facts for the after exercise of the judgement ; 
and instead of awakening by the noblest models the fond and 

8 Biographia Literaria ch. i 


unmixed LovE and Admiration, which is the natural 
and graceful temper of early youth ; these nursehngs of im- 
proved pedagogy are taught to dispute and decide ; to 
suspect all, but their own and their lecturer's wisdom ; and 
to hold nothing sacred from their contempt, but their own 5 
contemptible arrogance : boy-graduates in all the technicals, 
and in all the dirty passions and impudence of anonymous 
criticism. To such dispositions alone can the admonition 
of Phnyberequisite, "Nequeenimdebet operibus ejus obesse, 
quod vivit. An si inter eos, quos nunquam vidimus, fioruis- 10 
set, non solum libros ejus, verum etiam imagines conquire- 
remus, ejusdem nunc honor praesentis, et gratia quasi satie- 
tate languescit ? At hoc pravum, mahgnumque est, non 
admirari hominem admiratione dignissimum, quia videre, 
complecti, nec laudare tantum, verum etiam amare con- 15 
tingit." Plin. Epist. Lib. I. 

I had just entered on my seventeenth year, when the 
sonnets of Mr. Bowles, twenty in number, and just then 
pubhshed in a quarto pamphlet, were first made known and 
presented to me, by a schoolfellow who had quitted us for 20 
the University, and who, during the whole time that he was 
in our first form (or in our school language a Grecian,) had 
been my patron and protector. I refer to Dr. Middleton, the 
truly learned, and every way excellent Bishop of Calcutta : 

" Qui laudibus amphs j- 

Ingenium celebrare meum, calamumque solebat, 
Calcar agens animo vahdum. Non omnia terrae 
Obruta ; vivit amor, vivit dolor ; ora negatur 
Dulcia conspicere; at fiere et meminisse * relictum est." 

Petr. Ep., Lib. I, Ep. L ,0 

* I am most happy to have the necessity of informing the 
reader that, since this peissage was written, the report of 
Dr. Middleton's death on his voyage to India has been proved 
erroneous. He lives and long may he live ; for I dare pro- 
phecy, that with his life only will his exertions for the temporal 
and spiritual welfare of his fellow men be limited. 

CH. I 

Biographia Literaria 

It was a double pleasure to me, and still remains a tender 
recoUection, that I should have received from a friend so 
revered the first knowledge of a poet, by whose works, year 
after year, I was so enthusiastically dehghted and inspired. 
5 My earhest acquaintances will not have forgotten the undis- 
ciphned eagerness and impetuous zeal, with which I laboured 
to make proselytes, not only of my companions, but of all 
with whom I conversed, of whatever rank, and in whatever 
place. As my school finances did not permit me to purchase 

lo copies, I made, within less than a year and a half, more than 
forty transcriptions, as the best presents I could offer to 
those, who had in any way won my regard. And with 
almost equal dehght did I receive the three or four following 
pubhcations of the same author. 

15 Though I have seen and known enough of mankind to 
be well aware, that I shall perhaps stand alone in my creed, 
and that it will be well, if I subject myself to no worse 
charge than that of singularity ; I am not therefore deterred 
from avowing, that I regard, and ever have regarded the 

20 obhgations of intellect among the most sacred of the claims 
of gratitude. A valuable thought, or a particular train of 
thoughts, gives me additional pleasure, when I can safely 
refer and attribute it to the conversation or correspondence 
of another. My obhgations to Mr. Bowles were indeed 

25 important, and for radical good. At a very premature age, 
even before my fifteenth year, I had bewildered myself in 
metaphysicks, and in theological controversy. Nothing else 
pleased me. History, and particular facts, lost all interest 
in my mind. Poetry (though for a school-boy of that age, 

30 I was above par in Enghsh versification, and had already 
produced two or three compositions which, I may venture to 
say, without reference to my age, were somewhat above 
mediocrity, and which had gained me more credit than the 
sound, good sense of my old master was at all pleased with,) 

35 poetry itself, yea, novels and romances, became insipid to 

lo Biographia Literaria ch. i 

me. In my friendless wanderings on our leave-days*, (for I 
was an orphan, and had scarcely any connections inLondon,) 
highly was I dehghted, if any passenger, especially if he 
were drest in black, would enter into conversation with 
me. For I soon found the means of directing it to my 5 
favorite subjects 

"Of providence, fore-knowledge, will, and fate, 
Fix'd fate, free will, fore-knowledge absolute, 
And found no end in wandering mazes lost." 

This preposterous pursuit was, beyond doubt, injurious both 10 
to my natural powers, and to the progress of my education. 
It would perhaps have been destructive, had it been con- 
tinued ; but from this I was auspiciously withdrawn, partly 
indeed by an accidental introduction to an amiable family, 
chiefly however, by the genial influence of a style of poetry, 1 5 
so tender and yet so manly, so natural and real, and yet 
80 dignified and harmonious, as the sonnets «&c. of Mr. 
Bowles ! Well were it for me, perhaps, had I never relapsed 
into the same mental disease ; if I had continued to pluck 
the flower and reap the harvest from the cultivated surface, 20 
instead of delving in the unwholesome quicksilver mines of 
metaphysic depths. But if in after time I have sought a 
refuge from bodily pain and mismanaged sensibihty in 
abstruse researches, which exercised the strength and 
subtlety of the understanding without awakening the 25 
feehngs of the heart ; still there was a long and blessed in- 
terval, during which my natural faculties were allowed to 
expand, and my original tendencies to develope themselves : 
my fancy, and the love of nature, and the sense of beauty 
in forms and sounds. 30 

The second advantage, which I owe to my early perusal, 
and admiration of these poems, (to which let me add, 

* The Chrisfs Hospital phrase, not for holidays altogether, 
but for those on which the boys are permitted to go beyond 
the precincts of the school. 

CH. I Biographia Literaria ii 

though known to me at a somewhat later period, the 
Lewsdon Hill of Mr. Crow) bears more immediately on my 
present subject. Among those with whom I conversed, 
there were, of course, very many who had formed their 
5 taste, and their notions of poetry, from the writings of 
Mr. Pope and his followers : or to speak more generally, in 
that school of French poetry, condensed and invigorated by 
Enghsh understanding, which had predominated from the 
last century. I was not bhnd to the merits of this school, 

I o yet as f rom inexperience of the world, and consequent want 
of sympathy with the general subjects of these poems, they 
gave me little pleasure, I doubtless undervalued the kind, 
and with the presumption of youth withheld from its masters 
the legitimate name of poets. I saw that the excellence 

15 of this kind consisted in just and acute observations on 
men and manners in an artificial state of society, as its 
matter and substance : and in the logic of wit, conveyed in 
smooth and strong epigrammatic couplets, as its jorm. 
Even when the subject was addressed to the fancy, or the 

30 intellect, as in the Rape of the Lock, or the Essay on Man ; 
nay, when it was a consecutive narration, as in that astonish- 
ing product of matchless talent and ingenuity, Pope's 
Translation of the Iliad ; still a point was looked for at the 
end of each second line, and the whole was as it were a 

25 sorites, or, if I may exchange a logical for a grammatical 
metaphor, a conjundion disjundive, of epigrams. Mean- 
time the matter and"diction seemed to me characterized not 
so much by poetic thoughts, as by thoughts tmnslated into 
the language of poetry. On this last point, I had occasion 

30 to render my own thoughts gradually more and more plain 
tomyself,byfrequent amicable disputes concerningDarwin's 
BoTANic Garden, which, for some years, was greatly ex- 
tolled, not only by the reading pubhc in general, but even by 
those, whose genius and natural robustness of understanding 

35 enabled them afterwards to act foremost in dissipating these 

12 Biographia Literaria ch. i 

"painted mists" that occasionally rise from the marshes at 
the foot of Parnassus. During my first Cambridge vacation, 
I assisted a friend in a contribution for a Hterary society 
in Devonshire : and in this I remember to have compared 
Darwin's work to the Russian palace of ice, ghttering, cold 5 
and transitory. In the same essay too, I assigned sundry 
reasons, chiefiy drawn from a comparison of passages in the 
Latin poets with the original Greek, from which they were 
borrowed, for the preference of Collins' odes to those of 
Gray ; and of the simile in Shakespeare 10 

" How like a younker or a prodigal, 

The skarfed bark puts from her native bay, 

Hugg'd and embraced by the strumpet wind ! 

How Hke the prodigal doth she return, 

With over-weather'd ribs and ragged sails, 15 

Lean, rent, and beggar'd by the strumpet wind! " 

to the imitation in the Bard ; 

" Fair laughs the morn, and soft the zeph^n: blows, 

While proudly riding o'er the azure realm 

In gallant trim the gilded vessel goes, ^o 

YouTH at the prow and pleasure at the helm ; 

Regardless of the sweeping whirlwind's sway, 

That hush'd in grim repose, expects its evening prey." 

(In which, by the bye, the words " realm " and " sway " are 
rhymes dearly purchased.) I preferred the original on the 35 
ground, that in the imitation it depended wholly on the 
compositor's putting, or not putting, a small Capital, both in 
this, and in many other passages of the same poet, whether 
the words should be personifications, or mere abstractions. 
I mention this, because, in referring various hnes in Gray to 30 
their origincil in Shakespeare and Milton ; and in the clear 
perception how completely all the propriety was lost in the 
transfer; I was, at that early period, led to a conjecture, 
which, many years af terwards was recalled to me from the 
same thought having been started in conversation, but 35 

CH. I Btographia Literaria 13 

far more ably, and developed more fully, by Mr. Words- 
worth ; namely, that this style of poetry, which I have 
characterised above, as translations of prose thoughts into 
poetic language, had been kept up by, if it did not wholly 
5 arise from, the custom of writing Latin verses, and the great 
importance attached to these exercises, in our public schools. 
Whatever might have been the case in the fifteenth century, 
when the use of the Latin tongue was so general among 
leamed men, that Erasmus is said to have forgotten his 

10 native language ; yet in the present day it is not to be 
supposed, that a youth can think in Latin, or that he can 
have any other rehance on the force or fitness of his phrases, 
but the authority of the writer from whence he has adopted 
them. Consequently he must first prepare his thoughts, 

1 5 and then pick out, f rom Virgil, Horace, Ovid, or perhaps more 
compendiously from his * Gradus, halves and quarters of 
hnes, in which to embody them. 

I never object to a certain degree of disputatiousness in a 
young man from the age of seventeen to that of four or five 

20 and twenty, provided I find him always arguing on one side 
of the question. The controversies, occasioned by my un- 
feigned zeal for the honor of a favorite contemporary, 
then known to me only by his works, were of great advan- 
tage in the formation and estabhshment of my taste and 

25 critical opinions. In my defence of the hnes running into 
each other, instead of closing at each couplet, and of natural 
language, neither bookish, nor vulgar, neither redolent of 

* In the Nutricia of PoUtian there occurs this line : 
" Pura coloratos interstrepit unda lapillos." 

Casting my eye on a University prize-poem, I met this line : 

" Lactea purpureos interstrepit unda laptUos," 

Now look out in the Gradus for Purus, and you find as the 
first synonime, lacteus ; for coloratus, and the first synonime 
is purpureus. I mention this by way of elucidating one of the 
most ordinary processes in the ferrumination of these centos. 

14 Btographta Literaria ch. i 

the lamp, nor of the kennel, such as 7 will remember thee ; 
instead of the same thought tricked up in the rag-f air finery 


" Thy image on her wing 

Before my fancy's eye shall memory bring," 5 

I had continually to adduce the metre and diction of the 
Greek Poets from Homer to Theocritus inclusive ; and 
still more of our elder Enghsh poets from Chaucer to Milton. 
Nor was this all. But as it was my constant reply to authori- 
ties brought against me from later poets of great name, that 10 
no authority could avail in opposition to Truth, Nature, 
LoGic, and the Laws of Universal Grammar ; actuated 
too by my former passion for metaphysical investigations ; 
I labored at a sohd foundation, on which permanently to 
ground my opinions, in the component faculties of the 15 
human mind itself, and their comparative dignity and im- 
portance. According to the faculty or source, from which 
the pleasure given by any poem or passage was derived, I 
estimated the merit of such poem or passage. As the result 
of all my reading and meditation, I abstracted two critical 20 
aphorisms, deeming them to comprise the conditions and cri- 
teria of poetic style ; first, that not the poem which we 
have read, but that to which we return, with the greatest plea- 
sure, possesses the genuine power, and claims the name of 
essential poetry. Second, that whatever hnes can be trans- 25 
lated into other words of the same language, without dimi- 
nutionof theirsignificance, either in sense, or association, or 
in any worthy feehng, are so far vicious in their diction. Be 
it however observed, that I excluded from the hst of worthy 
feehngs, the pleasure derived from mere novelty in the 30 
reader, and the desire of exciting wonderment at his powers 
in the author. Oftentimes since then, in pursuing French 
tragedies, I have fancied two marks of admiration at the end 
of each hne, as hieroglyphics of the author's own admiration 
at his own cleverness. Our genuine admiration of a great 35 

CH. I Biographia Literaria 15 

poet is a continuous under-current of feeling ; it is every- 
where present, but seldom anywhere as a separate excite- 
ment. I was wont boldy to afifirm, that it would be scarcely 
more difiicult to push a stone out from the pyramids with the 
5 bare hand, than to alter a word, or the position of a word, 
in Milton or Shakespeare, (in their most important works at 
least, ) without making the author say something else, or some- 
thing worse, than he does say. One great distinction, I 
appeared to myself to see plainly, between, even the charac- 

10 teristic faults of our elder poets, and the false beauty of the 
moderns. In the former, from Donne to Cowley, we find 
the most fantastic out-of-the-way thoughts, but in the most 
pure and genuine mother English ; in the latter, the most 
obvious thoughts, in language the most fantastic and 

15 arbitrary. Our faulty elder poets sacrificed the passion and 
passionate flow of poetry, to the subtleties of intellect, and to 
the starts of wit ; the moderns to the glare and ghtter of a 
perpetual, yet broken and heterogeneous imagery, or rather 
to an amphibious something, made up, half of image, and 

20 half of abstract * meaning. The one sacrificed the heart to 
the head ; the other both heart and head to point and 

The reader must make himself acquainted with the 
general style of composition that was at that time deemed 

25 poetry, in order to understand and account for the effect 
produced on me by the Sonnets, the Monody at Matlock, 
and the Hope, of Mr. Bowles ; for it is pecuhar to original 
genius to become less and less striking, in proportion to its 
success in improving the taste and judgement of its con- 

30 temporaries. The poems of West, indeed, had the merit 
of chaste and manly diction, but they were cold, and, if I 

* I remember a ludicrous instance in the poem of a young 
tradesman : 

" No more will I endure love's pleasing pain, 
Or round my heart's leg tie his galling chain." 

i6 Biographia Literaria ch. i 

may so express it, only dead-coloured ; while in the best of 
Warton's there is a stiffness, which too often gives them 
the appearance of imitations from the Greek. Whatever 
relation therefore of cause or impulse Percy's collection of 
Ballads may bear to the most popular poems of the present 5 
day ; yet in the more sustained and elevated style, of the 
then living poets, Bowles and Cowper * were, to the best 
of my knowledge, the first who combined natural thoughts 
with natural diction ; the first who reconciled the heart 
with the head. 10 

It is true, as I have before mentioned, that from diffidence 
in my own powers, I for a short time adopted a laborious 
and florid diction, which I myself deemed, if not absolutely 
vicious, yet of very inferior worth. Gradually, however, my 
practice conformed to my better judgement ; and the com- 15 
positions of my twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth years {ex. gr. 
the shorter blank verse poems, the lines, which are now 
adopted in the introductory part of the Vision in the present 
collection, in Mr. Southey's Joan of Arc, 2nd book, ist edi- 
tion, and the Tragedy of Remorse) are not more below my 20 
present ideal in respect of the general tissue of the style than 
those of the latest date. Their faults were at least a rem- 
nant of the former leaven, and among the many who have 
done me the honor of putting my poems in the same class 
with those of my betters, the one or two, who have pre- 25 

* Cowper's Task was published some time before the Sonnets 
of Mr. Bowles ; but I was not familiar with it till many years 
afterwards. The vein of satire which runs through that ex- 
cellent poem, together with the sombre hue of its religious 
opinions, would probably, at that time, have prevented its laying 
any strong hold on my affections. The love of nature seems to 
have led Thompson to a chearf ul religion ; and a gloomy religion 
to have led Cowper to a love of nature. The one would carry 
his fellow-men along with him into nature ; the other fiies to 
nature from his fellow-men. In chaistity of diction however, 
and the harmony of blank verse, Cowper leaves Thompson im- 
measurably below him ; yet still I feel the latter to have been 
the born poet. 

cH. I Biographia Literaria 17 

tended to bring examples of affected simplicity from my 
volume, have been able to adduce but one instance, and that 
out of a copy of verses half ludicrous, half splenetic, which 
I intended, and had myself characterized, as sermoni propiora . 
5 Every reform, however necessary, will by weak minds be 
carried to an excess, that itself will need reforming. The 
reader will excuse me for noticing, that I myself was the first 
to expose risu honesto the three sins of poetry, one or the 
other of which is the most hkely to beset a young writer. 

10 So long ago as the pubhcation of the second number of the 
monthly magazine, under the name of Nehemiah Higgin- 
BOTTOM, I contributed three sonnets, the first of which had 
for its object to excite a good-natured laugh at the spirit of 
doleful egotism, and at the recurrence of favorite phrases, 

15 with the double defect of being at once trite and hcentious. 
The second, on low, creeping language and thoughts, 
under the pretence of simplicity. And the third, the phrases 
of which were borrowed entirely from my own poems, on the 
indiscriminate use of elaborate and sweUing language and 

30 imagery. The reader will find them in the note * below, and 


Pensive at eve, on the hard world I mused, 

And my poor heart was sad ; so at the Moon 

I gazed, and sighed, and sighed ; for ah how soon 

Eve saddens into night ! mine eyes perused 

With tearful vacancy the dampy grass 

That wept and glitter'd in the paly ray : 

And I did pause me on my lonely way 

And mused me on'the wretched ones that pass 

0'er the bleak heath of sorrow. But alas ! 

Most of myself I thought ! when it befel, 

That the soothe spirit of the hreezy wood 

Breath'd in mine ear : " All this is very well, 

But much of one thing, is for no thing good." 

Oh my poor heart's inexplicable swell ! 

Sonnet II. 
Oh I do love thee, meek Simplicity I 
For of thy lays the luUing simpleness 
Goes to my heart, and soothes each small distress, 
Distress tho' small, yet haply great to mc. 


i8 Biographia Literaria ch. i 

will I tnist regard them as reprinted for biographical pur- 
poses, and not for their poetic merits. So general at 
that time, and so decided was the opinion concerning the 

'Tis true on Lady Fortune's gentlest pad 
I amble on ; and yet I know not why 
So sad I am ! but should a friend and I 
Frown, pout and part, then I am vevy sad. 
And then with sonnets and with sympathy 
My dreamy bosom's mystic woes I pall ; -i 
Now of my false friend plaining plaintively, 
Now raving at mankind in general ; 
But whether sad or fierce, 'tis simple all, 
All very simple, meek Simplicity ! 

And this reft house is that, the wliich he built, 
Lamented Jack ! and here his malt he pil'd, 
Cautious in vain ! these rats, that squeak so wild, 
Squeak not unconscious of their father's guilt. 
Did he not see her gleaming thro' the glade ! 
BeUke 'twas she, the maiden all forlorn. 
What tho' she milk no cow with crumpled horn, 
Yet, aye she haunts the dale where evst she stray'd : 
And aye, beside her stalks her amorous knight ! 
Still on his thighs their wonted brogues are worn, 
And thro' those brogues, still tatter'd and betorn, 
His hindward charms gleam an unearthly white. 
Ah ! thus thro' broken clouds at nighfs high Noon 
Peeps in fair fragments forth the full-orb'd harvest-moon ! 

The following anecdote will not be whoUy out of place here, 
and may perhaps amuse the reader. An amateur performer 
in verse expressed to a common friend a strong desire to be 
introduced to me, but hesitated in accepting my friend's im- 
mediate offer, on the score that "he was, he must acknowledge, 
the author of a confounded severe epigram on my ancient 
mariner, which had given me great pain." I assured my friend 
that, if the epigram was a good one, it would only increase my 
desire to become acquainted with the author, and begg'd to 
hear it recited : when, to my no less surprise than amusement, 
it proved to be one which I had myself some time before written 
and inserted in the Morning Post. 

To the author of the Ancient Mariner. 

Your poem must eternal be, 
Dear sir ! it cannot fail, 
For 'tis incomprehensible, 
And without head or tail. 

CH. I Biographia Literaria 19 

characteristic vices of my style, that a celebrated physician 
(now, alas ! no more) speaking of me in other respects with 
his usual kindness to a gentleman, who was about to meet 
me at a dinner party, could not however resist giving him 
5 a hint not to mention the " House that Jack built" in my pre- 
sence, for " that I was as sore as a boil about that sonnet ;" 
he not knowing, that I was myself the author of it. 


Supposed irniabiliiy of men of Genius — Broughi io the test of 
facis — Causes and Occasions of the charge — Its Injustice. 

I HAVE often thought, that it would be neither uninstructive 
nor unamusing to analyze, and bring forward into distinct 

10 consciousness, that complex feehng, with which readers 
in general take part against the author, in favor of the 
critic ; and the readiness with which they apply to all 
poets the old sarcasm of Horace upon the scribblers of 
his time : " Genus irritabile vatum." A debility and 

15 dimness of the imaginative power, and a consequent 
necessity of rehance on the immediate impressions of 
the senses, do, we well know, render the mind hable 
to superstition and fanaticism. Having a deficient portion 
of internal and proper warmth, minds of this class seek in the 

20 crowd circum fana for a warmth in common, which they do 
not possess singly. " Cold and plegmatic in their own nature, 
hke damp hay, they heat and inflame by co-acervation ; or 
Uke bees they become restless and irritable through the 
increased temperature of collected multitudes. Hence the 

25 German word for fanaticism, (such at least was its original 
import,) is derived from the swarming of bees, namely, 
Schwarmen, Schwarmerei. The passion being in an inverse 
proportion to the insight, that the more vivid, as this the 
less distinct ; anger is the inevitable consequence. The ab- 

c 2 

20 Biographia Literaria ch. n 

sense of all foundation within their own minds for that, 
which they yet beheve both true and indispensable f or their 
safety and happiness, cannot but produce an uneasy state of 
feehng, an involuntary sense of fear from which nature has 
no means of rescuing herself but by anger. Experience in- 5 
forms us that the first defence of weak minds is to recriminate. 

"There's no Philosopher but sees, 
That rage and fear are one disease, 
Tho' that may burn, and this may freeze, 
They're both ahke the ague." 10 

Mad Ox. 

But where the ideas are vivid, and there exists an endless 
power of combining and modifying them, the feelings and 
affections blend more easily and intimately with these ideal 
creations than with the objects of the senses ; the mind is 15 
affected by thoughts, rather than by things ; and only then 
feels the requisite interest even for the most important events 
and accidents, when by means of meditation they have 
passed into thoughts. The sanity of the mind is between 
superstition with fanaticism on the one hand, and enthusiasm 20 
with indifference and a diseased slowness to action on the 
other. For the conceptions of the mind may be so vivid 
and adequate, as to preclude that impulse to the reahzing of 
them, which is strongest and most restless in those, who 
possess more than mere talent, (or the faculty of appropriating 25 
and applying the knowledge of others,) yet still want some- 
thing of the creative, and self-sufficing power of absolute 
Genius. For this reason therefore, they are men of com- 
manding genius. While the former rest content between 
thought and reahty, as it were in an intermundium of which 30 
their own hving spirit supphes the substance, and their 
imagination the ever-varying form ; the latter must im- 
press their preconceptions on the world without, in order to 
present them back to their own view with the satisfying 
degree of clearness, distinctness, and individuahty. These 35 

CH. 11 Biographia Literaria 21 

in tranquil times are formed to exhibit a perfect poem in 
palace, or temple, or landscape-garden ; or a tale of romance 
in canals that join sea with sea, or in walls of rock, which, 
shouldering back the billows, imitate the power, and supply 
5 the benevolence of nature to sheltered navies ; or in aque- 
ducts that, arching the wide vale f rom mountain to mountain, 
give a Palmyra to the desert. But alas ! in times of tumult 
they are the men destined to come forth as the shaping spirit 
of Ruin, to destroy the wisdom of ages in order to substitute 

10 the fancies of a day, and to change kings and kingdoms, as 

the wind shifts and shapes the clouds.* The records of 

I biography seem to confirm this theory. The men of the 

greatest genius, as far as we can judge from their own works 

or from the accounts of their contemporaries, appear to have 

15 been of calm and tranquil temper in all that related to 
themselves. In the inward assurance of permanent fame, 
they seem to have been either indifferent or resigned, with 
regard to immediate reputation. Through all the works of 
Chaucer there reigns a chearfulness, a manly hilarity, which 

20 makes it almost impossible to doubt a correspondent habit 
of feeHng in the author himself. Shakespeare's evenness 
and sweetness of temper were almost proverbial in his own 
age. That this did not arise from ignorance of his own 
comparative greatness, we have abundant proof in his 

2 5 Sonnets, which could scarcely have been known to Mr. Pope, t 

* "Of old things all are over old, 

Of good things none are good enough : — 
We'll show that we can help to frame 
A world of other stuff. 

I too will have my kings, that take 
From me the sign of hfe and death : 
Kingdoms shall shift about, Uke clouds, 
Obedient to my breath." 

Wordsworth's Rob Roy. 

t Mr. Pope was under the common error of his age, an error 
far from being sufficiently exploded even at the present day. 
It consists (as I explained at large, and proved in detail in my 

22 Biographia Literaria ch. n 

when he asserted, that our great bard ** grew immortal in his 
own despite." Speaking of one whom he had celebrated, and 
contrasting the duration of his works with that of his personal 
existence, Shakespeare adds : 

"Your name from hence immortal Hfe shall have, 5 
Tho' I once gone to all the world must die ; 
The earth can yield me but a common grave, 
When you entombed in men's eyes shall lie. 
Your monument shall be my gentle verse, 
Which eyes not yet created shall o'er-read ; 10 

And tongues to he your being shall rehearse, 
When all the breathers of this world are dead: 
You still shall hve, such virtue hath my pen, 
Where breath most breathes, e'en in the mouth of men." 

SONNET 8ist. 15 

I have taken the first that occurred ; but Shakespeare's 
readiness to praise his rivals, ore pleno, and the confidence 

public lectures,) in mistaking for the essentials of the Greek 
stage certain rules, which the wise poets imposed upon them- 
selves, in order to render all the remaining parts of the drama 
consistent with those, that had been forced upon them by cir- 
cumstances independent of their will ; out of which circum- 
stances the drama itself arose. The circumstances in the time 
of Shakespeare, which it was equally out of his power to alter, 
were different, and such as, in my opinion, allowed a far wider 
sphere, and a deeper and more human interest. Critics are 
too apt to forget, that rules are but means to an end ; conse- 
quently, where the ends are different, the rules must be hkewise 
y so. We must have ascertained what the end is, before we can 
determine what the rules ought to be. Judging under this im- 
pression, I did not hesitate to declare my full conviction, that 
the consummate judgement of Shakespeare, not only in the 
general construction, but in all the detail, of liis dramas, im- 
pressed me with greater wonder, than even the might of his 
genius, or the depth of his philosophy. The substance of these 
lectures I hope soon to pubUsh ; and it is but a debt of justice 
to myself and my friends to notice, that the first course of 
lectures, which differed from the following courses only, by 
occasionally varying the illustrations of the same thoughts, 
was addressed to very numerous, and I need not add, respect- 
able audiences at the royal institution, before Mr. Schlegel gave 
his lectures on the same subjects at Vienna. 

CH. II Biographia Literaria 23 

of his own equality with those whom he deemed most worthy 
of his praise, are ahke manifested in the 86th Sonnet. 

"Was it the proud fuU sail of his great verse, 

Bound for the praise of all-too-precious you, 
5 That did my ripe thoughts in my brain inhearse, 

Making their tomb, the womb wherein they grew ? 

Was it his spirit, by spirits taught to write 

Above a mortal pitch that struck me dead ? 

No, neither he, nor his compeers by night 
10 Giving him aid, my verse astonished. 

He, nor that affable famihar ghost, 

Which nightly gulls him with intelhgence, 

As victors of my silence cannot boast ; 

I was not sick of any fear from thence ! 
15 But when your countenance fiird up his hne, 

Then lack'd I matter, that enfeebled mine." 

In Spenser, indeed, we trace a mind constitutionally 
tender, dehcate, and, in comparison with his three great 
compeers, I had almost said, e-ffeminate ; and this addition- 

20 ally saddened by the unjust persecution of Burleigh, and the 
severe calamities, which overwhelmed his latter days. These 
causes have diffused over all his compositions " a melancholy 
grace," and have drawn forth occasional strains, the more 
patheticfrom their gentleness. But no where do we find the 

25 least trace of irritabiUty, and still less of quarrelsome or 
affected contempt of his censurers. 

The same calmness, and even greater self-possession, may 
be affirmed of Milton, as far as his poems, and poetic char- 
acter are concerned. He reserved his anger for the enemies 

30 of rehgion, freedom, and his country. My mind is not 
capable of forming a more august conception, than arises 
from the contemplation of this great man in his latter days : 
poor, sick, old, bhnd, slandered, persecuted, 

" Darkness before, and danger's voice behind, — " 

35 in an age in which he was as httle understood by the party, 

24 Biographia Literaria ch. n 

for whom, as by that, against whom he had contended ; and 
among men before whom he strode so far as to dwarf himself 
by the distance ; yet still Ustening to the music of his own 
thoughts, or if additionally cheered, yet cheered only by the 
prophetic faith of two or three sohtary individuals, he did 5 

"Argue not 

Against Heaven's hand or will, nor bate a jot 

Of heart or hope ; but still bore up and steer'd 

Right onward." 10 

From others only do we derive our knowledge that Milton, 
in his latter day, had his scorners and detractors ; and even 
in his day of youth and hope, that he had enemies would 
have been unknown to us, had they not been hkewise the 
enemies of his country. 15 

I am well aware, that in advanced stages of hterature, 
when there exist many and excellent models, a high degree 
of talent, combined with taste and judgement, and employed 
in works of imagination, will acquire for a man the name of 
a great genius ; though even that analogon of genius, which, 20 
in certain states of society, may even render his writings 
more popular than the absolute reahty could have done, 
would be sought for in vain in the mind and temper of the 
author himself. Yet even in instances of this kind, a close 
examination will often detect, that the irritabihty, which has 25 
been attributed to the author's genius as its cause, did really 
originate in an ill conformation of body, obtuse pain, or con- 
stitutional defect of pleasurable sensation. What is charged 
to the author, belongs to the man, who would probably have 
been stih more impatient, but for the humanizing infiuences 30 
of the very pursuit, which yet bears the blame of his irrita- 

How then are we to explain the easy credence generaUy 
given to this charge, if the charge itself be not, as I have 
endeavoured to show, supported by experience ? This 35 

cH. II Biographia Literaria 25 

seems to me of no very difficult solution. In whatever 
country literature is widely diffused, there will be many who 
mistake an intense desire to possess the reputation of poetic 
genius, for the actual powers, and original tendencies which 

5 constitute it. But men, whose dearest wishes are fixed on 
objects wholly out of their own power, become in all cases 
more or less impatient and prone to anger. Besides, though 
it may be paradoxical to assert, that a man can know one 
thing and beheve the opposite, yet assuredly a vain person 

10 may have so habitually indulged the wish, and persevered in 
the attempt, to appear what he is not, as to become himself 
one of his own proselytes. Still, as this counterfeit and 
artificial persuasion must differ, even in the person's own 
feehngs, from a real sense of inward power, what can be 

15 more natural, than that this difference should betray itself in 
suspicious and jealous irritabihty ? Even as the fiowery sod, 
which covers a hollow, may be often detected by its shaking 
and trembhng. 

But, alas ! the multitude of books and the general diffu- 

20 sion of hterature, have produced other and more lamentable 
effects in the world of letters, and such as are abundant to 
explain, though by no means to justify, the contempt with 
which the best grounded complaints of injured genius are 
rejected as frivolous, or entertained as matter of merriment. 

25 In the days of Chaucer and Gower, our language might (with 
due allowance for the imperfections of a simile) be compared 
to a wildemess of-vocal reeds, from which the favorites 
only of Pan or Apollo could construct even the rude Syrinx ; 
and from this the construdors alone could elicit strains of 

.^0 music. But now, partly by the labours of successive poets, 
and in part by the more artificial state of society and social 
intercourse, language, mechanized as it were into a barrel- 
organ, supphes at once both instrument and tune. Thus 
even the deaf may play, so as to dehght the many. Some- 

35 times (for it is with similes, as it is with jests at a wine table, 

26 Biographia Literaria ch. n 

one is sure to suggest another) I have attempted to illustrate 
the present state of our language, in its relation to literature, 
by a press-room of larger and smaller stereotype pieces, 
which, in the present Anglo-GalHcan fashion of unconnected, 
epigrammatic periods, it requires but an ordinary portion of 5 
ingenuity to vary indefinitely, and yet still produce some- 
thing, which, if not sense, will be so like it as to do as well. 
Perhaps better ; for it spares the reader the trouble of think- 
ing ; prevents vacancy, while it indulges indolence ; and 
secures the memory from all danger of an intellectual ple- 10 
thora. Hence of all trades, hterature at present demands 
the least talent or information ; and, of all modes of Utera- 
ture, the manufacturing of poems. The difference indeed 
between these and the works of genius is not less than be- 
tween an t^f^ and an egg-shell ; yet at a distance they both 15 
look ahke. Now it is no less remarkable than true, with 
how little examination works of polite literature are com- 
monly perused, not only by the mass of readers, but by men 
of iirst rate abihty, till some accident or chance * discussion 

* In the course of one of my Lectures, I had occasion to point 
out the almost faultless position and choice of words, in Mr. 
Pope's original compositions, particularly in his Satires and 
moral Essays, for the purpose of comparing them with his 
translation of Homer, which I do not stand alone in regarding 
as the main source of our pseudo-poetic diction. And this, 
by the bye, is an additional confirmation of a remark made, 
I beUeve, by Sir Joshua Reynolds, that next to the man 
who forms and elevates the taste of the public, he that 
corrupts it, is commonly the greatest genius. Among other 
passages, I analyzed sentence by sentence, and almost word 
by word, the popular Unes, 

" As when the moon, resplendent lamp of light, &c." 

much in the same way as has been since done, in an excellent 
article on Chalmers's British Poets in the Quarterly Review. 
The impression on the audience in general was sudden and 
evident : and a number of enhghtened and highly educated 
persons, who at different times afterwards addressed me on 
the subject, expressed their wonder, that truth so obvious 

CH. II Biographia Literaria 27 

have roused their attention, and put them on their guard. 
And hence individuals below mediocrity not less in natural 
power than in acquired knowledge ; nay, bunglers that had 
failed in the lowest mechanic crafts, and whose presumption 

5 is in due proportion to their want of sense and sensibihty ; 
men, who being first scribblers from idleness and ignorance, 
next become hbellers from envy and malevolence ; have 
been able to drive a successful trade in the employment of 
the booksellers, nay, have raised themselves into temporary 

10 name and reputation with the pubhc at large, by that most 
powerful of all adulation, the appeal to the bad and mahg- 
nant passions of mankind.* But as it is the nature of scom, 

should not have struck them before ; but at the same time 
acknowledged (so much had they been accustomed, in reading 
poetry, to receive pleasure f rom the separate images and phrases 
successively, without asking themselves whether the collective 
meaning was sense or nonsense) that they might in all proba- 
biUty have read the same passage again twenty times with 
undiminished admiration, and without once reflecting, that 

" aarpa (paeivfjv aficfn crf\r]vrjv (^aiveT dpnrpenea " (i. e. the stars 
around, or near the full moon, shine pre-eminently bright) 
conveys a just and happy image of a moonlight sky : while 
it is difl&cult to determine whether, in the lines, 

"Around her throne the vivid planets roll, 
And stars unnumber'd gild the glowing pole," 

the sense or the diction be the more absurd. My answer was ; 
that, though I had derived pecuhar advantages from my school 
discipUne, and though my general theory of poetry was the 
same then as now, I had yet experienced the same sensations 
myself, and felt almost as if I had been newly couched, when, 
by Mr. Wordsworth's conversation, I had been induced to re- 
examine with impartial strictness Gray's celebrated elegy. 
I had long before detected the defects in " the Bard " ; but " the 
Elegy " I had considered as proof against all fair attacks ; and 
to this day I cannot read either without dehght, and a portion 
of enthusiasm. At all events, whatever pleasure I may have 
lost by the clearer perception of the faults in certain passages, 
has been more than repaid to me by the additional deUght with 
which I read the remainder. 

* EspeciaUy " in this age of personality, this age of Uterary 
and poUtical gossiping, when the meanest insects are wor- 

28 Biographia Literaria ch. n 

envy, and all malignant propensities torequire a quick change 
of objects, such writers are sure, sooner or later, to awake 
from their dream of vanity to disappointment and neglect 
with embittered and envenomed feehngs. Even during 
their short-Hved success, sensible in spite of themselves on 5 
what a shifting foundation it rests, they resent the mere 
refusal of praise, as a robbery, and at the justest censures 
kindle at once into violent and undisciplined abuse ; till 
the acute disease changing into chronical, the more deadly 
as the less violent, they become the fit instmments of hterary 10 
detraction, and moral slander. They are then no longer to 
be questioned without exposing the complainant to ridicule, 
because, forsooth, they are anonymous critics, and authorized 

shipped with a sort of Egyptian superstition, if only the brain- 
less head be atoned for by the sting of personal malignity in 
the tail ! When the most vapid satires have become the 
objects of a keen pubUc interest, purely from the number of 
contemporary characters named in the patch-work notes, (which 
possess, however, the comparative merit of being more poetical 
than the text,) and because, to increase the stimulus, the author 
has sagaciously left his own name for whispers and conjectures ! 
In an age, when even sermons are published with a double 
appendix stuffed with names — in a generation so transformed 
from the characteristic reserve of Britons, that from the ephe- 
meral sheet of a London newspaper, to the everlasting Scotch 
Professorial Quarto, almost every pubUcation exhibits or fiat- 
ters the epidemic distemper ; that the very " last year's re- 
buses " in the Ladies Diary, are answered in a serious elegy 
" on my father's death," withthe name and habitat of the elegiac 
Oedipus subscribed ; and " other ingenious solutions were like- 
wise given " to the said rebuses — not as heretofore by Crito, 
Philander, A, B, Y, &c., but by fifty or sixty plain EngUsh 
surnames at fuU length with their several places of abode ! 
In an age, when a bashful Philalethes, or Phileleutheros is 
as rare on the title pages, and among the signatures, of our 
magazines, as a real name used to be in the days of our shy 
and notice-shunning grandfathers ! When (more exquisite 
than aU) I see an epic poem (spirits of Mars and Maeonides, 
make ready to welcome your new compeer !) advertised 
with the special recommendation that the said epic poem 
contains more than a hundred names of living persons." — 
Friend No, 10. 

cH. II Btographia Literaria 29 

as "synodical individuals " * to speak of themselves plurali 
majestatico ! As if literature formed a caste, like that of the 
Paras in Hindostan, who, however maltreated, must not 
dare to deem themselves wronged ! As if that, which in all 
5 other cases adds a deeper dye to slander, the circumstance 
of its being anonymous, here acted only to make the slanderer 
inviolable ! Thus, in part, from the accidental tempers of 
individuals (men of undoubted talent, but not men of genius) 
tempers rendered yet more irritable by their desire to apfear 

10 men of genius ; but still more effectively by the excesses of 
the mere counterfeits both of talent and genius ; the number 
too being so incomparably greater of those who are thought 
to be, than of those who really are men of real genius ; and in 
part from the natural, but not therefore the less partial and 

15 unjust distinction, made by the pubHc itself between literary 
and all other property ; — I beheve the prejudice to have 
arisen, which considers an unusual irascibihty concerning 
the reception of its products as characteristic of genius. It 
might conect the moral feehngs of a numerous class of 

30 readers, to suppose a Review set on foot, the object of which 
should be to criticise all the chief works presented to the 
pubhc by ourribbon-weavers, cahco-printers, cabinet-makers, 
and china-manufacturers ; a Review conducted in the same 
spirit, and which should take the same f reedom with personal 

35 character, as our hterary journals. They would scarcely, I 
think, deny their behef, not only that the " genus irritabile " 
would be found to Include many other species besides that of 
bards ; but that the irritabihty of trade would soon reduce the 
resentment of poets into mere shadow-fights (o-Kto/Maxtas) in 

30 the comparison. Or is wealth the only rational object of 
human interest ? Or even if this were admitted, has the poet 
no property in his works ? Or is it a rare, or culpable case, 
that he who serves at the altar of the muses, should be com- 

* A phrase of Andrew Marvefs. 

30 Biographia Literaria ch. n 

pelled to derive his maintenance from the altar, vvhen too he 
has perhaps dehberately abandoned the fairest prospects of 
rank and opulence in order to devote himself, an entire and 
undistracted man, to the instniction or refinement of his 
fellow-citizens ? Or, should we pass by all higher objects and 5 
motives, all disinterested benevolence, and even that am- 
bition of lasting praise which is at once the cnitch and orna- 
ment, which at once supports and betrays, the infirmity of 
human virtue ; is the character and property of the man, 
who labours for our intellectual pleasures, less entitled to a 10 
share of our fellow feehng, than that of the wine-merchant 
or milhner ? Sensibihty indeed, both quick and deep, is not 
only a characteristic feature, but may be deemed a com- 
ponent part, of genius. But it is not less an essential mark 
of true genius, that its sensibihty is excited by any other 15 
cause more powerfully than by its own personal interests ; 
for this plain reason, that the man of genius hves most in the 
ideal world, in which the present is still constituted by the 
future or the past ; and because his feehngs have been 
habitually associated with thoughts and images, to the 20 
number, clearness, and vivacity of which the sensation of 
selj is always in an inverse proportion. And yet, should he 
perchance have occasion to repel some false charge, or to 
rectify some erroneous censure, nothing is more common 
than for the many to mistake the general hvehness of his 25 
manner and language, whatever is the subject, for the effects 
of peculiar irritation from its accidental relation to himself.* 

* This is one instance among many of deception, by the 
telling the half of a fact, and omitting the other half , when it 
is from their mutual counteraction and neutrahzation, that 
the whole truth arises, as a tertium ahquid different from either. 
Thus in Dryden's famous line, " Great wit" (which here means 
genius) "to madness sure is near allied." Now as far as the pro- 
found sensibiUty, which is doubtless one of the components of 
genius, were alone considered, single and unbalanced, it might be 
fairly described as exposing the individual to a greater chance of 
mental derangement •; but then a more than usual rapidity of 

cH. II Btographia Literaria 31 

For myself, if from my own feelings, or from the less 
suspicious test of the observations of others, I had been 
made aware of any literary testiness or jealousy ; I trust, 
that I should have been, however, neither silly nor arrogant 
5 enough to have burthened the imperfection on genius. But 
an experience (and I should not need documents in abun- 
dance to prove my words, if I added) a tried experience of 
twenty years, has taught me, that the original sin of my 
character consists in a careless indifference to public opinion, 

10 and to the attacks of those who influence it ; that praise and 
admiration have become yearly less and less desirable, except 
as marks of sympathy ; nay that it is difiicult and distressing 
to me, to think with any interest even about the sale and 
profit of my works, important as, in my present circum- 

15 stances, such considerations must needs be. Yet it never 
occurred to me to beheve or fancy, that the quantum of in- 
tellectual power bestowed on me by nature or education 
was in any way connected with this habit of my feehngs ; or 
that it needed any other parents or fosterers than consti- 

20 tutional indolence, aggravated into languor by ill-health ; 
the accumulating embarrassments of procrastination ; the 
mental cowardice, which is the inseparable companion of 
procrastination, and which makes us anxious to think and 
converse on any thing rather than on what concerns 

25 ourselves; in fine, all those close vexations, whether 
chargeable on my faults or my fortunes, which leave me 
but Httle grief to spare for evils comparatively distant and 

association, a more than usual power of passing from thought 
to thought, and image to image, is a component equally essen- 
tial ; and in the due modification of each by the other the 
GENius itself consists ; so that it would be just as fair to de- 
scribe the earth, as in imminent danger of exorbitating, or of 
falling into the sun, according as the assertor of the absurdity 
co«/inerf_his attention either to the projectile or to the attractive 
force exclusively. 

32 Biographia Literaria ch. n 

Indignation at literary wrongs I leave to men born under 
happier stars. I cannot a§ord it. But so far from con- 
demning those who can, I deem it a writer's duty, and think 
it creditable to his heart, to feel and express a resentment 
proportioned to the grossness of the provocation, and the 5 
importance of the object. There is no profession on earth, 
which requires an attention so early, so long, or so uninter- 
mitting as that of poetry ; and indeed as that of hterary 
composition in general, if it be such as at all satisfies the 
demands both of taste and of sound logic. How difficult lo 
and dehcate a task even the mere mechanism of verse is, 
may be conjectured from the failure of those, who have 
attempted poetry late in hfe. Where then a man has, from 
his earhest youth, devoted his whole being to an object, 
which by the admission of all civihzed nations in all ages is 1 5 
honorable as a pursuit, and glorious as an attainment ; 
what of all that relates to himself and his family, if only we 
except his moral character, can have fairer claims to his pro- 
tection, or more authorize acts of self-defence, than the 
elaborate products of his intellect and inteUectual industry ? 2° 
Prudence itself would command us to show, even if defect or 
diversion of natural sensibihty had prevented us f rom feeling, 
a due interest and quahfied anxiety for the offspring and 
representatives of our nobler being. I know it, alas ! by 
woeful experience ! I have laid too many eggs in the hot 25 
sands of this wilderness, the world, with ostrich carelessness 
and ostrich obhvion. The greater part indeed have been 
trod under foot, and are forgotten ; but yet no smah number 
have crept forth into Hfe, some to furnish feathers for the 
caps of others, and still more to plume the shafts in the 3° 
quivers of my enemies, of them that unprovoked have lain 
in wait against my soul. 

" Sic vos, non vobis, melhficatis, apes ! " 

CH. II Biographia Literaria 33 

An instance in confirmation of the Note, p. 26, occurs to me 
as I am correcting this sheet, with the Faithful Shepherdess 
open before me. Mr. Seward first traces Fletcher's lines ; 

" More foul diseases than e'er yet the hot 
5 Sun bred thro' his burnings, while the dog 

Pursues the raging Uon, throwing the fog 
And deadly vapour from his angry breath, 
Filling the lower world wth plague and death. — " 

To Spenser's Shepherd's Calendar, 

10 " The rampant Uon hunts he fast 

With dogs of noisome breath ; 
Whose baleful barking brings, in haste, 
Pyne, plagues, and dreary death ! " 

He then takes occasion to introduce Homer's simile of the sight 
15 of Achilles' shield to Priam compared with the Dog Star, liter- 

ally thus — 

" For this indeed is most splendid, but it was made an evil 

sign, and brings many a consuming disease to wretched mor- 

tals." Nothing can be more simple as a description, or more 
20 accurate as a simile ; which, (says Mr. S.) is thus finely trans- 

lated by Mr. Pope : 

" Terrific Glory ! for his burning breath 

Taints the red air with fevers, plagues, and death ! " 

Now here (not to mention the tremendous bombast) the Dog 
25 Star, so called, is turned into a real Dog, a very odd Dog, a Fire, 
Fever, Plague, and death-breathing, ye(i-air-tainting Dog : and 
the whole visual hkeness is lost, while the Ukeness in the effects 
is rendered absurd by the exaggeration. In Spenser and 
Fletcher the thought is justifiable ; for the images are at least 
30 consistent, and it was the intention of the writers to mark the 
seasons by this aUegory of visuaUzed Puns. 


34 Biographia Literaria ch. m 


Th,e author's obligations to critics, and the prohahle occasion — 
Principles of modern criticism — Mr, Southey's works and 

To anonjonous critics in reviews, magazines, and news- 
journals of various name and rank, and to satirists with or 
without a name in verse or prose, or in verse-text aided by 
prose-comment, I do seriously beHeve and profess, that I 
owe fuU two thirds of whatever reputation and pubhcity 5 
I happen to possess. For when the name of an individual 
has occurred so frequently, in so many works, for so great 
a length of time, the readers of these works (which with a 
shelf or two of Beauties, Elegant Extracts and Anas, 
f orm nine-tenths of the reading of the reading pubHc * ) cannot 10 

* For as to the devotees of the circulating libraries, I dare 
not compliment their pass-time, or rather kill-time, with the 
name of reading. Call it rather a sort of beggarly day-dream- 
ing, during which the mind of the dreamer furnishes for itself 
nothing but laziness, and a little mawkish sensibility ; while 
the whole materiel and imagery of the dose is supplied ah extra 
by a sort of mental camera obscura manufactured at the printing 
of&ce, which pro tempore fixes, refiects, and transmits the 
moving phantasms of one man's delirium, so as to people the 
barrenness of a hundred other brains afflicted with the same 
trance or suspension of all common sense and all definite pur- 
pose. \Ve should therefore transfer this species of amusement 
(if indeed those can be said to retire a musis, who were never 
in their company, or relaxation be attributable to those, whose 
bows are never bent) from the genus, reading, to that compre- 
hensive class characterized by the power of reconciUng the two 
contrary yet co-existing propensities of human nature, namely, 
indulgence of sloth, and hatred of vacancy. In addition to 
novels and tales of chivalry in prose or rhyme, (by which last 
I mean neither rhythm nor metre),this genus comprises as its 
species, gaming, smnging, or swaying on a chair or gate ; spit- 
ting over a bridge ; smoking ; snuff-taking ; tete-a-tete quarrels 
after dinner between husband and wife ; conning word by word 
all the advertisements of a daily newspaper in a public house 
on a rainy day, &c. &c. &c. 

CH. III Biographia Literaria 35 

but be familiar with the name, without distinctly remember- 
ing whether it was introduced for an eulogy or for censure. 
And this becomes the more hkely, if (as I beheve) the habit 
of perusing periodical works may be properly added to 

5 Averrhoe's * catalogue of Anti-Mnemonics, or weakeners of 
the memory. But where this has not been the case, yet the 
reader will be apt to suspect, that there must be something 
more than usually strong and extensive in a reputation, that 
could either require or stand so merciless and long-continued 

10 a cannonading. Without any feeling of anger therefore (for 
which indeed, on my own account, I have no pretext) I may 
yet be allowed to express some degree of surprize, that, after 
having run the critical gauntlet for a certain class of faults 
which I had, nothing having come before the judgement-seat 

15 in the interim, I should, year after year, quarter after 
quarter, month after month (not to mention sundry petty 
periodicals of still quicker revolution, " or weekly or diurnal") 
have been, for at least 17 years consecutively dragged forth 
by them into the foremost ranks of the proscribed, and forced 

20 to abide the brunt of abuse, for faults directly opposite, and 
which I certainly had not. How shall I explain this ? 

Whatever may have been the case with others, I certainly 
cannot attribute this persecution to personal dishke, or to 
envy, or to feelings of vindictive animosity. Not to the 

25 former, for with the exception of a very few who are my 

* Ex gr. Pedicujos e capillis excerptos in arenam jacere 
incontusos : eating of unripe fruit ; gazing on the clouds, and 
(in genere) on moveable things suspended in the air ; riding 
among a multitude of camels ; frequent laughter ; listening to 
a series of jests and humorous anecdotes, as when (so to 
modemize the learned Saracen's meaning) one man's droll story 
of an Irishman inevitably occasions another's droll story of 
a Scotchman, which again, by the same sort of conjunction dis- 
junctive, leads to some etouderie of a Welshman, and that again 
to some sly hit of a Yorkshireman ; the habit of reading tomb- 
stones in church-yards, &c. By the bye, this catalogue, strange 
as it may appear, is not insusceptible of a sound psychological 

D 3 

36 Biographia Literaria ch. m 

intimate friends, and were so before they were known as 
authors, I have had Httle other acquaintance with literary 
characters, than what may be imphed in an accidental 
introduction, or casual meeting in a mixt company. And, 
as far as words and looks can be trusted, I must beheve that, 5 
even in these instances, I had excited no unfriendly disposi- 
tion*. Neither by letter, or in conversation, have I ever 

* Some years ago, a gentleman, the chief writer and con- 
ductor of a celebrated review, distinguished by its hostility 
to Mr. Southey, spent a day or two at Keswick. That he was, 
without diminution on this account, treated with every hos- 
pitable attention by Mr. Southey and myself, I trust I need not 
say. But one thing I may venture to notice ; that at no 
period of my hfe do I remember to have received so many, and 
such high coloured comphments in so short a space of time. 
He was hkewise circumstantially informed by what series of 
accidents it had happened, that Mr. Wordsworth, Mr. Southey, 
and I had become neighbours ; and how utterly unfounded was 
the supposition, that -we eonsidered ourselves, as belonging to 
any common school, but that of good sense confirmed by the 
long-estabhshed models of the best times of Greece, Rome, 
Italy, and England ; and still more groundless the notion, that 
Mr. Southey (for as to myself I have pubhshed so httle, and that 
httle of so httle importance, as to make it ludicrous to mention 
my name at aU) could have been concerned in the formation of 
a poetic sect with Mr. Wordsworth, when so many of his works 
had been pubUshed not only pre^nously to any acquaintance 
between them ; but before Mr. Wordsworth himself had written 
anything but in a diction ornate, and uniformly sustained ; 
when too the shghtest examination will make it evident, that 
between those and the after writings of Mr. Southey, there 
exists no other difference than that of a progressive degree of 
excellence from progressive developement of power, and pro- 
gressive facihty from habit and increase of experience. Yet 
among the first articles which this man wrote after his return 
from Keswick, we were characterized as "the School of whining 
and hypochondriacal poets that haunt the Lakes." In reply 
to a letter from the same gentleman, in which he had asked 
me, whether I was in earnest in preferring the style of Hooker 
to that of Dr. Johnson ; and Jeremy Taylor to Burke ; I stated, 
somewhat at large, the comparative excellences and defects, 
which characterized our best prose writers, from the reforma- 
tion, to the first half of Charles 2nd ; and that of those who had 
fiourished during the present reign, and the preceding one. 
About twelve months afterwards, a review appeared on the 

CH. III Biographia Literaria 37 

had dispute or controversy beyond the common social inter- 
change of opinions. Nay, where I had reason to suppose my 
convictions fundamentally different, it has been my habit, 
and I may add, the impulse of my nature, to assign the 
5 grounds of my behef, rather than the behef itself ; and not 
to express dissent, till I could estabhsh some points of com- 
plete sympathy, some grounds common to both sides, from 
which to commence its explanation. 

Stih less can I place these attacks to the charge of envy. 

10 The few pages which I have pubhshed, are of too distant a 

date ; and the extent of their sale a proof too conclusive 

against their having been popular at any time ; to render 

same subject, in the concluding paragraph of which the re- 
viewer asserts, that his chief motive for entering into the dis- 
cussion was to separate a rational and qualified admiration of 
our elder writers, from the indiscriminate enthusiasm of a recent 
school, who praised what they did not understand, and cari- 
catured what they were unable to imitate. And, that no doubt 
might be left concerning the persons alluded to, the writer 
annexes the names of Miss Bailie, W. Southey, Words- 
WORTH and Coleridge. For that which foUows, I have only 
hearsay evidence; but yet such as demands my beUef; viz. 
that on being questioned concerning this apparently wanton 
attack, more especially with regard to Miss Bailie, the writer 
had stated as his motives, that this lady, when at Edinburgh 
had declined a proposal of introducing him to her ; that 
Mr. Southey had written against him ; and Mr. Wordsworth 
had talked contemptuously of him ; but that as to Coleridge, 
he had noticed him merely because the names of Southey and 
Wordsworth and Cqleridge always went together. But if it 
were worth while to mix together, as ingredients, half the anec- 
dotes which I either myself know to be true, or which I have 
received from men incapable of intentional falsehood, concem- 
ing the characters, qualifications, and motives of our anonymous 
critics, whose decisions are oracles f or our reading pubUc, I might 
safely borrow the words of the apocryphal Daniel, " Give me 
leave, O Sovereign Public, and I shall slay this dragon without 
sword or staff." For the compound would be as the " Pitch, and 
fat, and hair which Daniel took, and did seethe them together, 
and made lumps thereof, and put into the dragon's mouth, 
and so the dragon burst in sunder ; and Daniel said, ' Lo, 


38 Biographia Literaria ch. m 

probable, I had almost said possible, the excitement of envy 
on their account ; and the man who should envy me on any 
other, verily he must be envy-mad ! 

Lastly, with as Httle semblance of reason, could I suspect 
any animosity towards me from vindictive feehngs as the 5 
cause. I have before said, that my acquaintance with 
hterary men has been hmited and distant ; and that I have 
had neither dispute nor controversy. From my first en- 
trance into hfe, I have, with few and short intervals, hved 
either abroad or in retirement. My different essays on 10 
subjects of national interest, pubhshed at different times, 
first in the Morning Post and then in the Courier, with my 
courses of lectures on the principles of criticism as apphed to 
Shakespeare and Milton, constitute my whole pubhcity ; the 
only occasions on which I coiild offend any member of the 15 
repubhc of letters. With one sohtary exception in which 
my words were first misstated and then wantonly apphed to 
an individual, I could never learn, that I had excited the 
displeasure of any among my hterary contemporaries. 
Having announced my intention to give a course of lectures 20 
on the characteristic merits and defects of Enghsh poetry in 
its different aeras ; first, from Chaucer to Milton ; second, 
from Dryden inclusive to Thompson ; and third, from 
Cowper to the present day ; I changed my plan, and con- 
fined my disquisition to the two former seras, that I might 25 
furnish no possible pretext for the unthinking to misconstrue, 
or the mahgnant to misapply my words, and having stampt 
their own meaning on them, to pass them as current coin in 
the marts of garrahty or detraction. 

Praises of the unworthy are felt by ardent minds as 30 
robberies of the deserving ; and it is too true, and too 
frequent, that Bacon, Harrington, Machiavel, and Spinosa, 
are not read, because Hume, Condihac, and Voltaire are. 
But in promiscuous company no prudent man will oppugn 
the merits of a contemporary in his own supposed depart- 35 

CH. III Biographia Literaria 39 

ment ; contenting himself with praising in his turn those 
whom he deems excellent. If I should ever deem it my 
duty at all to oppose the pretensions of individuals, I would 
oppose them in books which could be weighed and answered, 
5 in which I could evolve the whole of my reasons and feel- 
ings, with their requisite Hmits and modifications ; not in 
irrecoverable conversation, where however strong the reasons 
might be, the feehngs that prompted them would assuredly 
be attributed by some one or other to envy and discontent. 

^° Besides I well know, and I trust, have acted on that know- 
ledge, that it must be the ignorant and injudicious who extol 
the unworthy ; and the eulogies of critics without taste or 
judgement are the natural reward of authors without feehng 
or genius. " Sint unicuique sua praemia." 

^5 How then, dismissing, as I do, these three causes, am I 
to account for attacks, the long continuance and inveteracy 
of which it would require all three to explain ? The solution 
may seem to have been given, or at least suggested, in a note 
to a preceding page. / was in habits of intimacy with Mr. 

20 Wordsworth and Mr. Southey ! This, however, transfers, 
rather than removes the difficulty. Be it, that, by an uncon- 
scionable extension of the old adage, " noscitur a socio," my 
literary friends are never under the water-fall of criticism, 
but I must be wet through with the spray ; yet how came 

25 the torrent to descend upon them? 

First then, with regard to Mr. Southey. I well remember 
the general reception of his earHer publications : viz. the 
poems pubhshed with Mr. Lovell under the names of 
Moschus and Bion ; the two volumes of poems under his 

30 own name, and the Joan of Arc. The censures of the critics 
by profession are extant, and may be easily referred to : — 
careless hnes, inequahty in the merit of the different poems, 
and (in the hghter works) a predilection for the strange and 
whimsical ; in short, such faults as might have been antici- 

35 pated in a young and rapid writer, were indeed sufficiently 

40 Biographia Literaria ch. m 

enforced. Nor was there at that time wanting a party spirit 
to aggravate the defects of a poet, who with all the courage 
of uncomipted youth had avowed his zeal for a cause, which 
he deemed that of hberty, and his abhorrence of oppression 
by whatever name consecrated. But it was as Httle ob- 5 
jected by others, as dreamt of by the poet himself, that he 
preferred careless and prosaic hnes on rule and of forethought, 
or indeed that he pretended to any other art or theory of 
poetic diction, besides that which we may all learn from 
Horace, Quinctilian, the admirable dialogue de Causis Cor- 10 
ruptae Eloquentiae, or Strada's Prolusions ; if indeed natural 
good sense and the early study of the best models in his own 
language had not infused the same maxims more securely, 
and, if I may venture the expression, more vitally. All 
that could have been fairly deduced was, that in his taste 15 
and estimation of writers Mr. Southey agreed far more with 
Warton, than with Johnson. Nor do I mean to deny, that 
at all times Mr. Southey was of the same mind with Sir 
Phihp Sidney in preferring an excellent ballad in the hum- 
hlest style of poetry to twenty indifferent poems that 20 
strutted in the highest. And by what have his works, pub- 
hshed since then, been characterized, each more strikingly 
than the preceding, but by greater splendor, a deeper 
pathos, profounder refiections, and a more sustained dignity 
of language and of metre ? Distant may the period be, but 25 
whenever the time shall come, when all his works shall be 
collected by some editor worthy to be his biographer, I 
trust that an excerpta of all the passages, in which his 
writings, name, and character have been attacked, from the 
pamphlets and periodical works of the last twenty years, 30 
may be an accompaniment. Yet that it would prove medi- 
cinal in af ter times I dare not hope ; for as long as there are 
readers to be dehghted with calumny, there will be found 
reviewers to calumniate. And such readers will become in 
all probabihty more numerous, in proportion as a still greater 35 

CH. iii Biographia Literaria 41 

diffusion of literature shall produce an increase of sciolists, 
and sciolism bring with it petulance and presumption. In 
times of old, books were as religious oracles ; as literature 
advanced, they next became venerable preceptors ; they 
5 then descended to the rank of instructive friends ; and, as 
their numbers increased, they sunk still lower to that of 
entertaining companions ; and at present they seem de- 
graded into culprits to hold up their hands at the bar of every 
self-elected, yet not the less peremptory, judge, who chuses 

10 to write from humour or interest, from enmity or arrogance, 

and to abide the decision (in the words of Jeremy Taylor) 

"of him that reads in mahce, or him that reads after 


The same gradual retrograde movement may be traced, 

15 in the relation which the authors themselves have assumed 
towards their readers. From the lofty address of Bacon : 
" these are the meditations of Francis of Verulam, which 
that posterity should be possessed of, he deemed their in- 
terest : " or from dedication to Monarch or Pontiff, in which 

20 the honor given was asserted in equipoise to the patronage 
acknowleged ; from Pindar's 

€7r oAXot- 

-(Ti 8 aAAot //.eyaAot. ro S' eo^^arov Kopv- 

(fyovTat /SacnXevcn. ixrjKtTL 
25 TTaTTTatve Tropcnov. 

etr) crk T€ tovtov 

vy\iov xpovov TraTctv, c/xc 

TC Too-o-a§c viKa(j>6poL<; 

6/xlXclv, 7rp6<f)avTov <ro<f>La Kad 'EA.- 
30 -Aavas covTa TravTa. — OlYMP. Od. I. 

there was a gradual sinking in the etiquette or allowed style of 

Poets and Philosophers, rendered diffident by their very 

number, addressed themselves to " learned Tea.ders ;" then, 

35 aimed to concihate the graces of "the candid reader;" 

till, the critic still rising as the author sunk, the amateurs of 

42 Biographia Literaria ch. m 

literature collectively were erected into a municipality of 
judges, and addressed as the town ! And now, finally, all 
men being supposed able to read, and all readers able to 
judge, the multitudinous public, shaped into personal unity 
by the magic of abstraction, sits nominal despot on the 5 
throne of criticism. But, alas ! as in other despotisms, it 
but echoes the decisions of its invisible ministers, whose 
intellectual claims to the guardianship of the muses seem, 
for the greater part, analogous to the physical quahfications 
which adapt their oriental brethren for the superintendence 10 
of the Harem. Thus it is said, that St. Nepomuc was in- 
stalled the guardian of bridges, because he had fallen over 
one, and sunk out of sight ; thus too St. Ceciha is said to 
have been first propitiated by musicians, because, having 
failed in her own attempts, she had taken a dishke to the 15 
art, and all its successful professors. But I shall probably 
have occasion hereafter to dehver my convictions more at 
large concerning this state of things, and its influences on 
taste, genius, and morahty. 

In the " Thalaba," the " Madoc," andstill more evidently in ao 
the unique * ' ' Cid," in the " Kehama, ' ' and, as last, so best, the 
"Don Roderick"; Southey has given abundant proof, "se 
cogitasse quam sit magnum dare ahquid in manus hominum, 
nec persuadere sibi posse, non saepe tractandum quod placere 
et semper et omnibus cupiat." Phn. Ep., Lib. 7, Ep. 17. 25 
But on the other hand, I guess, that Mr. Southey was 
quite unable to comprehend, wherein could consist the crime 

* I have ventured to call it "unique;" not only because 
I know no work of the kind in our language (if we except 
a few chapters of the old translation of Froissart) none, which 
uniting the charms of romance and history, keeps the imagina- 
tion so constantly on the wing, and yet leaves so much for after 
refiection ; but hkewise, and chiefiy, because it is a compilation 
which, in the various excellencies of translation, selection, and 
arrangement, required and proves greater genius in the com- 
piler, as Uving in the present state of society, than in the 
original composers. 

CH. III Biographia Literaria 43 

or mischief of printing half a dozen or more playful poems ; 
or to speak more generally, compositions which would be 
enjoyed or passed over, according as the taste and humour of 
the reader might chance to be ; provided they contained 

5 nothing immoral. In the present age "periturse parcere 
chartas" is emphatically an unreasonable demand. The 
merest trifle, he ever sent abroad, had tenfold better claims 
to its ink and paper, than all the silly criticisms, which 
prove no more, than that the critic was not one of those, 

10 for whom the trifle was written ; and than all the grave 
exhortations to a greater reverence for the pubhc. As if 
the passive page of a book, by having an epigram or doggrel 
tale impressed on it, instantly assumed at once loco-motive 
power and a sort of ubiquity, so as to flutter and buz in the 

1 5 ear of the pubhc to the sore annoyance of the said mysterious 
personage. But what gives an additional and more ludic- 
rous absurdity to these lamentations is the curious fact, 
that if in a volume of poetry the critic should find poem or 
passage which he deems more especially worthless, he is 

20 sure to select and reprint it in the review ; by which, on his 
own grounds, he wastes as much more paper than the author, 
as the copies of a fashionable review are more numerous 
than those of the original book ; in some, and those the 
most prominent instances, as ten thousand to five hundred. 

25 I know nothing that surpasses the vileness of deciding on the 
merits of a poet or painter, (not by characteristic defects ; 
for where there is genius, ihese always point to his charac- 
teristic beauties ; but) by accidental failures or faulty 
passages ; except the impudence of defending it, as the 

30 proper duty, and most instructive part, of criticism. Omit 
or pass shghtly over the expression, grace, and grouping of 
Raphaefs figures ; but ridicule in detail the knitting-needles 
and broom-twigs, that are to represent trees in his back 
grounds ; and never let him hear the last of his galli-pots ! 

35 Admit that the Allegro and Penseroso of Milton are not 

44 Biographia Literaria ch. m 

without merit ; but repay yourself f or this concession, by 
reprinting at length the iwo poems on the University Carrier ! 
As a fair specimen of his Sonnets, quote "A Book was writ of 
late called Tetrachordon ; " and, as characteristic of his 
rhythm and metre, cite his hteral translation of the first and 5 
second psalm ! In order to justify yourself, you need only 
assert, that had you dwelt chiefiy on the beauties and excel- 
lencies of the poet, the admiration of these might seduce the 
attention of future writers from the objects of their love and 
wonder, to an imitation of the few poems and passages in 10 
which the poet was most unHke himself. 

But till reviews are conducted on far other principles, and 
with far other motives ; till in the place of arbitrary dicta- 
tion and petulant sneers, the reviewers support their decisions 
by reference to fixed canons of criticism, previously estab- 15 
hshed and deduced f rom the nature of man ; reflecting minds 
will pronounce it arrogance in them thus to announce them- 
selves to men of letters, as the guides of their taste and judge- 
ment. To the purchaser and mere reader it is, at all events, 
an injustice. He who tells me that there are dejects in a 20 
new work, tells me nothing which I should not have taken 
for granted without his information. But he, who points 
out and elucidates the heauties of an original work, does 
indeed give me interesting information, such as experience 
would not have authorized me in anticipating. And as to 25 
compositions which the authors themselves announce with 
" Haec ipsi novimus esse nihil," why should we judge by a 
different rule two printed works, only because the one author 
was ahve, and the other in his grave ? What hterary man 
has not regretted the prudery of Spratt in refusing to let 30 
his friend Cowley appear in his shppers and dressing gown ? 
I am not perhaps the only one who has derived an innocent 
amusement from the riddles, conundrums, tri-syllable hnes, 
&c., &c., of Swif t and his correspondents, in hours of languor, 
when to have read his more finished works would have been 35 

CH. III Biographia Literaria 45 

useless to myself, and, in some sort, an act of injustice to the 
author. But I am at a loss to conceive by what perversity of 
judgement, these relaxations of his genius could be em- 
ployed to diminish his fame as the writer of " Gulhver^s 
5 Travels," and the " Tale of a Tub." Had Mr. Southey written 
twice as many poems of inferior merit, or partial interest, as 
have enlivened the journals of the day, they would have 
added to his honor with good and wise men, not merely or 
principally as proving the versatihty of his talents, but as 

10 evidences of the purity of that mind, which even in its levities 
never wrote a hne, which it need regret on any moral 

I have in imagination transferred to the future biographer 
the duty of contrasting Southey's fixed and well-earned 

15 fame, with the abuse and indefatigable hostihty of his 
anonymous critics from his early youth to his ripest man- 
hood. But I cannot think so ill of human nature as not to 
beheve, that these critics have already taken shame to 
themselves, whether they consider the object of their 

20 abuse in his moral or his hterary character. For refiect 
but on the variety and extent of his acquirements ! He 
stands second to no man, either as an historian or as a 
bibliographer ; and when I regard him as a popular essayist, 
(for the articles of his compositions in the reviews are for the 

25 greater part essays on subjects of deep or curious interest 
rather than criticisms on particular works *) I look in vain for 
any writer, who has conveyed so much information, from so 
many and such recondite sources, with so many just and 
original refiections, in a style so hvely and poignant, yet so 

30 uniformly classical and perspicuous ; no one in short who 
has combined so much wisdom with so much wit ; so much 
truth and knowledge with so much hfe and fancy. His 

* See the articles on Methodism, in the Quarterly 
Review: the small volume on the New System of Educa- 
tion, &c. 

46 Biographia Literaria ch. m 

prose is always intelligible and always entertaining. In 
poetry he has attempted almost every species of composition 
known before, and he has added new ones ; and if we except 
the highest lyric, (in which how few, how very few even of 
the greatest minds have been fortunate) he has attempted 5 
every species successfuUy : from the pohtical song of the 
day, thrown off in the playful overflow of honest joy and 
patriotic exultation, to the wild ballad *; from epistolary ease 
and graceful narrative, to the austere and impetuous moral 
declamation ; from the pastoral claims and wild streaming 10 
Mghts of the "Thalaba," in which sentiment and imagery 
have given permanence even to the excitement of curiosity ; 
and from the full blaze of the " Kehama," (a gallery of 
finished pictures in one splendid fancy piece, in which, not- 
withstanding, the moral grandeur rises gradually above the 15 
brilhance of the colouring and the boldness and novelty of 
the machinery) to the more sober beauties of the " Madoc" ; 
and lastly, from the Madoc to his " Roderic," in which, 
retaining all his former excellencies of a poet eminently 
inventive and picturesque, he has surpassed himself in 20 
language and metre, in the construction of the whole, and 
in the splendour of particular passages. 

Here then shall I conclude ? No ! The characters of 
the deceased, hke the encomia on tombstones, as they are 
described with rehgious tenderness, so are they read, with 25 
allowing sjnnpathy indeed, but yet with rational deduction. 
There are men, who deserve a higher record ; men with 
whose characters it is the interest of their contemporaries, 
no less than that of posterity, to be made acquainted ; while 
it is yet possible for impartial censure, and even for quick- 30 
sighted envy, to cross-examine the tale without offence to the 
courtesies of humanity ; and while the eulogist detected in 
exaggeration or falsehood must pay the fuU penalty of his 

* See the incomparable " Return to Moscow " and the " Old 
Woman of Berkeley." 

CH. III Biographia Literaria 47 

baseness in the contempt which brands the convicted 
flatterer. Pubhcly has Mr. Southey been reviled by men, 
who, (as I would fain hope for the honor of human nature) 
hurled fire-brands against a figure of their own imagination, 
5 pubhcly have his talents been depreciated, his principles 
denounced ; as pubhcly do I therefore, who have known 
him intimately, deem it my duty to leave recorded, that it 
is Southey's almost unexampled fehcity, to possess the 
best gif ts of talent and genius free f rom all their characteristic 

10 defects. To those who remember the state of our pubhc 
schools and universities some twenty years past, it will 
appear no ordinary praise in any man to have passed from 
innocence into virtue, not only free from all vicious habit, 
but unstained by one act of intemperance, or the degrada- 

15 tions akin to intemperance. That scheme of head, heart, 
and habitual demeanour, which in his early manhood, and 
first controversial writings, Milton, claiming the privilege of 
self-defence, asserts of himself, and challenges his calum- 
niators to disprove ; this will his school-mates, his fellow- 

20 collegians, and his maturer friends, with a confidence 
proportioned to the intimacy of their knowledge, bear 
witness to, as again reahzed in the hfe of Robert Southey. 
But still more striking to those, who by biography or by 
their own experience are famihar with the general habits of 

25 genius, will appear the poefs matchless industry and per- 
severance in his pursuits ; the worthiness and dignity of 
those pursuits ; his" generous submission to tasks of transi- 
tory interest, or such as his genius alone could make other- 
wise ; and that having thus more than satisfied the claims 

30 of affection or prudence, he should yet have made for him- 
self time and power, to achieve more, and in more various 
departments than almost any other writer has done, though 
employed whoDy on subjects of his own choice and am- 
bition. But as Southey possesses, and is not possessed by, 

35 his genius, even so is he master even of his virtues. The 

48 Biographia Literaria ch. m 

regular and methodical tenor of his daily labours, which 
would be deemed rare in the most mechanical pursuits, and 
might be envied by the mere man of business, loses all 
semblance of formahty in the dignified simphcity of his 
manners, in the spring and healthful chearfulness of his 5 
spirits. Always employed, his friends find him always at 
leisure. No less punctual in trifles, than stedfast in the 
performance of highest duties, he inflicts none of those 
small pains and discomforts which irregular men scatter 
about them, and which in the aggregate so often become 10 
formidable obstacles both to happiness and utihty ; while 
on the contrary he bestows all the pleasures, and inspires all 
that ease of mind on those around him or connected with 
him, which perfect consistency, and (if such a word might 
be framed) absolute reliability, equally in small as in great 15 
concerns, cannot but inspire and bestow : when this too is 
softened without being weakened by kindness and gentle- 
ness. I know few men who so well deserve the character 
which an antient attributes to Marcus Cato, namely, that he 
was hkest virtue, in as much as he seemed to act aright, not 20 
in obedience to any law or outward motive, but by the neces- 
sity of a happy nature, which could not act otherwise. As 
son, brother, husband, father, master, friend, he moves with 
firm yet hght steps, ahke unostentatious, and ahke exem- 
plary. As a writer, he has uniformly made his talents 25 
subservient to the best interests of humanity, of pubhc 
virtue, and domestic piety ; his cause has ever been the 
cause of pure rehgion and of hberty, of national independence 
and of national illumination. When future critics shall 
weigh out his guerdon of praise and censure, it will be 30 
Southey the poet only, that wih supply them with the 
scanty materials for the latter. They wiU hkewise not 
fail to record, that as no man was ever a more constant 
friend, never had poet more friends and honorers among 
the good of all parties ; and that quacks in education, 35 

CH. III Biographia Literaria 49 

quacks in politics, and quacks in criticism were his only 
enemies *. 

* It is not easy to estimate the effects which the example 
of a young man as highly distinguished for strict purity of 
disposition and conduct, as for intellectual power and literary 
acquirements, may produce on those of the same age with 
himself, especially on those of similar pursuits and congenial 
minds. For many years, my opportunities of intercourse 
with Mr. Southey have been rare, and at long intervals ; but 
I dwell with unabated pleasure on the strong and sudden, 
yet I trust not fleeting, influence, which my normal being 
underwent on my acquaintance with him at Oxford, whither 
I had gone at the commencement of our Cambridge vacation 
on a visit to an old school-fellow. Not indeed on my moral 
or rehgious principles, for they had never been contaminated ; 
but in awakening the sense of the duty and dignity of making 
my actions accord with those principles, both in word and deed. 
The irregularities only not universal among the young men of 
my standing, which I always knew to be wrong, I then learned 
to feel as degrading ; learnt to know that an opposite con- 
duct, which was at that time considered by us as the easy virtue 
of cold and selfish prudence, might originate in the noblest 
emotions, in views the most disinterested and imaginative. It 
is not however from grateful recollections only, that I have 
been impelled thus to leave these my deUberate sentiments on 
record ; but in some sense as a debt of justice to the man, whose 
name has beeh so often connected with mine for evil to which 
he is a stranger. As a specimen I subjoin part of a note, from 
" the Beauties of the Anti-jacobin," in which, having previously 
informed the pubhc that I had been dishonour'd at Cambridge 
for preaching Deism, at a time when, for my youthful ardour 
in defence of Christianity, I was decried as a bigot by the prose- 
lytes of French Phi- (or to speak more truly, Psi-) losophy, the 
writer concludes with these words ; " since this time he has left 
his native country, commenced citizen of the world, left his 
poor children fatherless, and his wife destitute. Ex his disce his 
friends, Lamb and Southey." With severest truth it may be 
asserted, that it would not be easy to select two men more 
exemplary in their domestic affections than those whose names 
were thus printed at fuU length as in the same rank of morals 
with a denounced infidel and fugitive, who had left his children 
fatherless and his wife destitute ! Is it surprising, that many 
good men remained longer than perhaps they otherwise would 
have done, adverse to a party, which encouraged and openly 
rewarded the authors of such atrocious calumnies ? " Quahs es, 
nescio ; sed per quales agis, scio et doleo." 


50 Biographta Literaria ch. iv 


The lyvical hallads with the preface — Mr. Wordsworth's earlier 
poems — On fancy and imagination — The investigation of the 
distinction important to the fine arts, 

I HAVE wandered far from the object in view, but as I 
fancied to myself readers who would respect the feelings that 
had tempted me from the main road ; so I dare calculate on 
not a few, who will warmly sympathize with them. At 
present it will be sufhcient for my purpose, if I have proved, 5 
that Mr. Southey's writings no more than my own furnished 
the original occasion to this fiction of a new school of poetry, 
and to the clamors against its supposed founders and 

As httle do I beheve that "Mr. Wordsworth's Lyrical 10 
Ballads" were in themselves the cause, I speak exclusively 
of the two voh^mes so entitled. A careful and repeated ex- 
amination of these confirms me in the behef, that the 
omission of less than an hundred hnes would have precluded 
nine-tenths of the criticism on this work. I hazard this 15 
declaration, however, on the supposition, that the reader 
has taken it up, as he would have done any other collection 
of poems purporting to derive their subjects or interests from 
the incidents of domestic or ordinary hfe, intermingled with 
higher strains of meditation which the poet utters in his 20 
own person and character ; with the proviso, that they 
were perused without knowledge of, or reference to, the 
author's peculiar opinions, and that the reader had not had 
his attention previously directed to those pecuharities. In 
these, as was actuahy the case with Mr. Southey's earher 25 
works, the hnes and passages which might have offended the 
general taste, would have been considered as mere inequah- 
ties, and attributed to inattention, not to perversity of 
judgement. The men of business who had passed their hves 

CH. IV Biographia Literaria 51 

chiefly in cities, and who might therefore be expected to 
derive the highest pleasure from acute notices of men and 
manners conveyed in easy, yet correct and pointed lan- 
guage ; and all those who, reading but httle poetry, are 
5 most stimulated with that species of it, which seems most 
distant from prose, would probably have passed by the 
volume altogether. Others more cathohc in their taste, and 
yet habituated to be most pleased when most excited, would 
have contented themselves with deciding, that the author 

10 had been successful in proportion to the elevation of his 
style and subject. Not a few perhaps, might by their 
admiration of " the Hnes written near Tintern Abbey," those 
"leftupon a Seat under a YewTree," the " old Cumberland 
beggar," and " Ruth," have been gradually led to peruse with 

15 kindred feehng the " Brothers," the "Hart leap well," and 
whatever other poems in that cohection may be described 
as holding a middle place between those written in the 
highest and those in the humblest style ; as for instance be- 
tween the "Tintern Abbey," and "the Thorn," orthe "Simon 

20 Lee." Should their taste submit to no further change, and 
still remain unreconciled to t he colloquial phrases, or the 
i mitations of them. th a_t are, more or less, scattered through_ 
the class last mentioned ; yet even from the small number 
of the latter, they would have deemed them but an incon- 

25 siderable subtraction from the merit of the whole work ; or, 

what is sometimes not unpleasing in the pubhcation of a 

new writer, as servmg to ascertain the natural tendency, 

and consequently the proper direction of the author's genius. 

In the critical remarks, therefore, prefixed and annexed 

30 to the "Lyrical Ballads," I beheve that we may safely rest, 
as the true origin of the unexampled opposition which 
Mr. Wordsworth's writings have been since doomed to en- 
counter. The humbler passages in the poems themselves 
were dwelt on and cited to justify the rejection of the theory . 

35 What in and for themselves would have been either forgotten 

E 2 

Biograph ia L itera ria 


#or forgiven as imperfections, or at least comparative failures, 
/iprovoked direct hostility when announced as intentional, as 
'/ Ithe result of choice after full deHberation. Thus the poems, 
admitted by all as excellent, joined with those which had 
pleased the far greater number, though they formed two- 5 
thirds of the whole work, instead of being deemed (as in all 
right they should have been, even if we take for granted that 
the reader judged aright) an atonement for the few excep- 
tions, gave wind and fuel to the animosity against both the 
poems and the poet. In all perplexity there is a portion of 10 
fear, which predisposes the mind to anger. Not able to 
deny that the author possessed both genius and a powerful 
intellect, they felt very positive, but were not quite certain, 
that he might not be in the right, and they themselves in the 
wrong ; an unquiet state of mind, which seeks alleviation by 15 
quarrelhng with the occasion of it, and by wondering at the 
perverseness of the man, who had written a long and argu- 
mentative essay to persuade them, that 

"Fair is foul, and foul is fair ; " 

in other words, that they had been all their Hves admiring 20 
without judgement, and were now about to censure without 

* In opinions of long continuance, and in which we have 
never before been molested by a single doubt, to be suddenly 
convinced of an error, is almost like being convicted of a fault. 
There is a state of mind, which is the direct antithesis of that, 
which takes place when we make a bull. The hull namely con- 
sists in the bringing together two incompatible thoughts, with 
the sensation, but without the sense, of their connection. The 
psychological condition, or that which constitutes the possi- 
biUty of this state, being such disproportionate vividness of 
two distant thoughts, as extinguishes or obscures the conscious- 
ness of the intermediate images or conceptions, or wholly ab- 
stracts the attention from them. Thus in the well known buU, 
" I was a ftne child, but they changed me ; " the first conception 
expressed in the word " 7," is that of personal identity — Ego 
contemplans : the second expressed in the word " me," is the 
visual image or object by which the mind represents to itself 

CH. IV Biographia Literaria 53 

That this conjecture is not wide from the mark, I am in- 
duced to beheve from the noticeable fact, which I can state 
on my own knowledge, that the same general censure should 
have been grounded by almost every different person on some 
5 different poem. Among those, whose candour and judge- 
ment I estimate highly, I distinctly remember six who 
expressed their objections to the "Lyrical Ballads" almost 
in the same words, and altogether to the same purport, at the 
same time admitting, that several of the poems had given 

10 them great pleasure ; and, strange as it might seem, the com- 
position which one cited as execrable, another quoted as his 
favorite. I am indeed convinced in my own mind, that could 
the same experiment have been tried with these volumes, as 
was made in the well known story of the picture, the result 

1 5 would have been the same ; the parts which had been co vered 
by the number of the black spots on the one day, would be 
found equally albo lapide notatae on the succeeding. 

its past condition, or rather, its personal identity under the 
form in which it imagined itself previously to have existed, — 
Ego contemplatus. Now the change of one visual image for 
another involves in itself no absurdity, and becomes absurd 
only by its immediate juxta-position with the first thought, 
which is rendered possible by the whole attention being suc- 
cessively absorbed in each singly, so as not to notice the inter- 
jacent notion, "changed," which by its incongruity with the 
first thought, " 7," constitutes the bull. Add only, that this 
process is faciUtated by the circumstance of the words " / " and 
" me," being sometimes equivalent, and sometimes having a dis- 
tinct meaning ; sometimes, namely, signifying the act of self- 
consciousness, sometimes the external image in and by which 
the mind represents that act to itself, the result and symbol 
of its individuaUty. Now suppose the direct contrary state, 
and you will have a distinct sense of the connection between 
two conceptions, without that sensation of such connection 
which is suppUed by habit. The man feels as if he were standing 
on his head, though he cannot but see, that he is truly standing 
on his feet. This, as a painful sensation, waU of course have 
a tendency to associate itself with the person who occasions it ; 
even as persons, who have been by painful means restored 
from derangement, are known to feel an involuntary disUke 
towards their physician. 

54 Biographia Literaria ch. iv 

However this may be, it is assuredly hard and unjust to 
fix the attention on a few separate and insulated poems with 
as much aversion, as if they had been so many plague-spots 
on the whole work, instead of passing them over in silence, 
as so much blank paper, or leaves of a bookseller's cata- 5 
logue ; especially, as no one pretends to have found 
any immorality or indelicacy ; and the poems, there- 
fore, at the worst, could only be regarded as so many light 
or inferior coins in a roleau of gold, not as so much alloy 
in a weight of bullion. A friend whose talents I hold in 10 
the highest respect, but whose judgement and strong sound 
sense I have had almost continued occasion to revere, 
making the usual complaints to me concerning both the 
style and subjects of Mr. Wordsworth's minor poems ; I 
admitted that there were some few of the tales and incidents, 15 
in which I could not myself find a sufhcient cause for their 
having been recorded in metre. I mentioned the " Alice 
Fell " as an instance ; " nay," replied my friend with more 
than usual quickness of manner, " I cannot agree with you 
there ! that, I own, does seem to me a remarkably pleasing 20 
poem." In the " Lyrical Ballads," (for my experience does 
not enable me to extend the remark equally unqualified to 
the two subsequent volumes,) I have heard at different 
times, and from different individuals every single poem ex- 
tolled and reprobated, with the exception of those of loftier 25 
kind, which as was before observed, seem to have won 
universal praise. This fact of itself would have made me 
diffident in my censures, had not a still stronger ground been 
furnished by the strange contrast of the heat and long con- 
tinuance of the opposition, with the nature of the faults 30 
stated as justifying it. The seductive faults, the dulcia vitia 
of Cowley, Marini, or Darwin might reasonably be thought 
capableof corrupting thepublic judgement for half a century, 
and require a twenty years' war, campaign after campaign, 
in order to dethrone the usurper and re-establish the legiti- 35 

CH. IV Biographia Literaria 55 

mate taste. But that a downright simpleness, under the 
affectation of simphcity, prosaic words in feeble metre, silly 
thoughts in childish phrases, and a preference of mean, 
degrading, or at best trivial associations and characters, 
5 should succeed in forming a school of imitators, a company 
of almost religioiis admirers, and this too among young men 
of ardent minds, hberal education, and not 

" with academic laurels unbestowed ; " 

and that this bare and bald connterfeit of poetry, which is 
10 characterized as helow criticism, should for nearly twenty 
years have weh-nigh engrossed criticism, as the main, if not 
the only, butt of review, magazine, pamphlet, poem, and 
paragraph ; — this is indeed matter of wonder ! Of yet 
greater is it, that the contest should stih continue as * unde- 
15 cided as that between Bacchus and the frogs in Aristophanes ; 

* Without however the apprehensions attributed to the 
Pagan reformer of the poetic republic. If we may judge from 
the preface to the recent collection of his poems, Mr. W. would 
have answered with Xanthias — 

(Tv 6 oiiK eBeLcriis tov \l/6(j)ov twv prjixaTcov, 

Koi Tas OTreiAay ; SAN. ov ixa Ai , ovb f(f>p6vTiaa, 

And here let me dare hint to the authors of the numerous 
parodies, and pretended imitations of Mr. Wordsworth's style, 
that at once to conceal and convey wit and wisdom in the 
semblance of foUy and dulness, as is done in the Clowns and 
Fools, nay even in the Dogberry, of our Shakespeare, is doubt- 
less a proof of genius, or at all events of satiric talent ; but 
that the attempt tQ.ridicule a silly and childish poem, by writing 
another still sillier and still more childish, can only prove (if 
it prove any thing at all) that the parodist is a still greater 
blockhead than the original writer, and, what is far worse 
a malignant coxcomb to boot. The talent for mimicry seems 
strongest where the human race are most degraded. The poor, 
naked, half human savages of New Holland were f ound exceUent 
mimics : and, in civihzed society , minds of the very lowest stamp 
alone satirize by copying. At least the difference, which must 
blend with and balance the hkeness, in order to constitute a just 
imitation, existing here merely in caricature, detracts from the 
hbeUer's heart, without adding an iota to the credit of his 

56 Biographia Literaria ch. iv 

when the former descended to the realms of the departed to 
bring back the spirit of old and genuine poesy. — 

A. dXX i$6XoL(r6' avTw Kod^. 

ovBkv ydp k<TT aXA.' 77 Kod^. 5 

oi/Aw^cT • ov ydp fioi fjiiXei. 

X. aXAa fxr)v KCKpa$6fJiecr6d 

y , OTTOcrov rj <^dpvy^ av rjfJLwv 

^avSdvTj 81 rjfiipas, 

jSpeKeKeKii, Koa^, Kod$ ! lo 

A. TOVTO) yap ov VLKT^creTe. 

X. ovBe firjv rffia^ o"u TravrcDS. 

A. ovSe firjv v/xcis ye 817 /u. 
oiSeTTOTe. KeKpd^ofLaL yap, 

Kav fie hirf, 8t rffiipa<;, 15 

€ws av vfiu)V eirLKpaTrfcru} tov Kod^\ 

X. /3p€KeK€Kk$, KO^AH, KOA'H! 

During the last year of my residence at Cambridge, I 
became acquainted with Mr. Wordsworth's first pubhcation 
entitled " Descriptive Sketches " ; and seldom, if ever, was 20 
the emergence of an original poetic genius above the Hterary 
[J horizon more evidently announced. In the form, style, and 
manner of the whole poem, and in the structure of the par- 
ticular hnes and periods, there is an harshness and acerbity 
connected and combined with words and images all a-glow, 25 
which might recall those products of the vegetable world, 
where gorgeous blossoms riseoutof thehardandthornyrind 
and shell, within which the rich fruit was elaborating. The 
language was not only pecuhar and strong, but at times knotty 
and contorted, as by its own impatient strength ; while the 30 
novelty and strugghng crowd of images, acting in conjunc- 
tion with the difhculties of the style, demanded always a 
greater closeness of attention, than poetry, (at aU events, 
than descriptive poetry) has a right to claim. It not seldom 
therefore justified the complaint of obscurity. In the fol- 35 

CH. IV Biographia Literaria 57 

lowing extract I have sometimes fancied, that I saw an 
emblem of the poem itself, and of the author's genius as it 
was then displayed. 

" 'Tis storm ; and hid in mist from hour to hour, 
5 All day the floods a deepening murmur pour ; 
The sky is veiled, and every cheerful sight : 
Dark is the region as with coming night ; 
And yet what frequent bursts of overpowering light ! 
Triumphant on the bosom of the storm, 

10 Glances the fire-clad eagle's wheehng form ; 
Eastward, in long perspective ghttering, shine 
The wood-crowned chffs that o'er the lake rechne ; 
Wide o'er the Alps a hundred streams unfold, 
At once to pillars turn'd that fiame with gold ; 

15 Behind his sail the peasant strives to shun 
The West, that burns hke one dilated sun, 
Where in a mighty crucible expire 
The mountains, glowing hot, hke coals of fire." 

The poetic psyche, in its process to full developement, 
20 undergoes as many changes as its Greek name-sake, the 
butterfly *. And it is remarkable how soon genius clears and 
purifies itself from the faults and errors of its earhest pro- 
ducts ; faults which, in its earhest compositions, are the 
more obtrusive and confluent, because as heterogeneous 
25 elements, which had only a temporary use, they constitute 
the very ferment, by which themselves are carried off. Or 
we may compare them to some diseases, which must work 
on the humours, and be thrown out on the surface, in order 

* The f act, that in Greek Psyche is the common name f or the 
soul, and the butterfly, is thus aHuded to in the foUowing 
stanzas from an unpublished poem of the author : 

" The butterfly the ancient Grecians made 
The sours fair emblem, and its only name — 
But of the soul, escaped the slavish trade 
Of mortal life ! For in this earthly frame 
Our's is the reptile's lot, much toil, much blame, 
Manifold motions making little speed, 
And to deform and kill the things, whereon we feed." 

S. T. C. 

Biographia Literaria 


to secure the patient from their future recurrence. I was in 
my twenty-fourth year, when I had the happiness of knowing 
Mr. Wordsworth personally, and while memory lasts, I 
shall hardly forget the sudden effect produced on my mind, 
by his recitation of a manuscript poem, which still remains 5 
unpubhshed, but of which the stanza, and tone of style, were 
the same as those of the " Female Vagrant," as originally 
printed in the first volume of the " Lyrical Ballads." There 
was here no mark of strained thought, or forced diction, no 
crowd or turbulence of imagery ; and, as the poet hath him- 10 
self well described in his hnes "on re-visiting the Wye," 
manly reflection, and human associations had given both 
variety, and an additional interest to natural objects, which 
in the passion and appetite of the first love they had seemed 
to him neither to need or permit. The occasional obscu- 15 
rities, which had risen from an imperfect controul over the 
resources of his native language, had almost wholly disap- 
peared, together with that worse defect of arbitrary and 
illogical phrases, at once hackneyed, and fantastic, which 
hold so distinguished a place in the technique of ordinary 20 
poetry, and will, more or less, alloy the earher poems of the 
truest genius, unless the attention has been specifically 
directedto their worthlessness and incongruity*. I did not 

* Mr. Wordsworth, even in his two earliest, " the Evening 
Walk and the Descriptive Sketches," is more free from this latter 
defect than most of the young poets his contemporaries. It 
may however be exemplified, together withthe harsh and obscure 
construction, in which he more often offended, in the following 
lines : — 

" 'Mid stormy vapours ever dri^-ing by, 
Where ospreys, cormorants, and herons cry ; 
Wliere hardly given the hopeless waste to cheer, 
Denied the bread of hfe, the foodful ear, 
Dwindles the pear on autumn's latest spray, 
And apple sickens pale in summer's ray ; 
Ev'n here content has fixed her smiling reign 
With independence, child of high disdain." 

I hope, I need not say, that I have quoted these hnes for no 


Biograph ia L itera ria 

perceive anything particular in the mere style of the poem 
alluded to during its recitation, except indeed such difference 
as was not separable from the thought and manner ; and 
the Spenserian stanza, which always, more or less, recalls to 
5 the reader's mind Spenser's own style, would doubtless have 
authorized, in my then opinion, a more frequent descent to 
the phrases of ordinary hfe, than could without an ill efifect 
have been hazarded in the heroic couplet. It was not how- 
ever the freedom from false taste, whether as to common 

To defects, or to those more properly his own, which made so 
unusual an impression on my feehngs immediately, and 
subsequently on my judgement. ylt was the union of deep 
feehng with profound thought ; the fine balance of truth in 
observing, with the imaginative faculty in modifying the 

15 objects observed ; and above aU the original gift of spreading 
the tone, the atmosphere, and with it the depth and height 
of the idea l world around fo rms, incidents . and sitn atinns. 
of which, for the common view, custom hadbedimmed all 
the lustre, had dried up the sparHe and the^^Sesv drops!| "To 

20 find no contradiction in the union of old and new ; to con- 
template the ancient of days and all his works with feehngs ^/ 
as fresh, as if all had then sprang forth at the first creative 
fiat ; characterizes the mind that feels the riddle of the 
world, and may help to unravel it. To carry on the feehngs ( 

25 of childhood into the powers of manhood ; to combine \ 
the child's sense of wonder and novelty with the appearances, 
which every day 'for perhaps forty years had rendered / 
famihar ; 

'\\'ith sun and moon and stars throughout the year, 
30 And man and woman ; ' 

this is the character and privilege of genius, and one of the 
marks which distinguish genius from talents. And therefore 

other purpose than to make my meaning fuUy understood. It 
is to be regretted that Mr. Wordsworth has not repubhshed 
these two poems entire. 

{6oJ Biographia Literaria ch. iv 

is it the prime merit of genius and its most unequivocal 
mode of manifestation, so to represent familiar objects as to 
awaken in the minds of others a kindred feehng concerning 
them and that freshness of sensation which is the constant 
accompaniment of mental, no less than of bodily, conva- 5 
lescence. Who has not a thousand times seen snow fall 
on water ? Who has not watched it with a new feehng, from 
the time that he has read Burns' comparison of sensual 

' To snow that falls upon a river 10 

A moment white — then gone for ever ! ' 

In poems, equally as in philosophic disquisitions, genius 
produces the strongest impressions of novelty, while it 
rescues the most admitted truths from the impotence 
caused by the very circumstance of their uni versal admission. ^ 5 
Truths of ah others the most awful and mysterious, yet being 
at the same time of universal interest, are too often con- 
sidered as so true, that they lose all the hfe and efificiency of 
truth, and he bed-ridden in the dormitory of the soul, 
side by side with the most despised and exploded errors." — 20 
The Friend *, p. 76, No. 5. 

This excellence, which in all Mr. Wordsworth's writings 
is more or less predominant, and which constitutes the 
character of his mind, I no sooner felt, than I sought to 
understand. Repeated meditations led me first to suspect, 25 
(and a more intimate analysis of the human faculties, 
their appropriate marks, functions, and effects matured my 
conjecture into fuh conviction,) that fancy and imagination 
were two distinct and widely different faculties, instead 
of being, according to the general behef, either two names 3° 

* As " the Friend " was printed on stampt sheets, and sent 
only by the post to a very limited number of subscribers, the 
author has felt less objection to quote from it, though a work 
of his own. To the public at large indeed it is the same as 
a volume in manuscript. 


Biographia Literaria 

with one meaning, or, at furthest, the lower and higher 
degree of one and the same power, It is not, I own, easy 
to conceive a more opposite translation of the Greek 
Phantasia than the Latin Imaginatio ; but it is equally true 

5 that in all societies there exists an instinct of growth, a 
certain collective, unconscious good sense working pro- 
gressively to desynonymize * those words originally of the 
same meaning, which the conflux of dialects had supphed 
to the more homogeneous languages, as the Greek and 

lo German : and which the same cause, joined with accidents 
of translation from original works of different countries, 
occasion in mixt languages hke our own. The first and 
most important point to be proved is, that two conceptions 
perfectly distinct are confused under one and the same 

* This is effected either by giving to the one word a general, 
and to the other an exclusive use ; as "to put on the back" 
and " to indorse ; " or by an actual distinction of meanings, as 
" naturaUst," and " physician ; " or by difference of relation, as 
"I" and "Me" (each of which the rustics of our different pro- 
vinces still use in all the cases singular of the first personal 
pronoun). Even the mere difference, or corruption, in the pro- 
nunciation of the same word, if it have become general, will pro- 
duce a new word with a distinct signification ; thus " property " 
and " propriety ; " the latter of which, even to the time of 
Charles II. was the written word for all the senses of both. 
Thus too " mister" and " master," both hasty pronunciations of 
the same word " magister," "mistress," and " miss," "if" and 
" give," &c. &c. There is a sort of minim immortal among the ani- 
malcula infusoria which has not naturally either birth, or death, 
absolute beginning,. or absolute end : for at a certain period 
a small point appears on its back, which deepens and lengthens 
till the creature divides into two, and the same process recom- 
mences in each of the halves now become integral. This may 
be a f ancif ul, but it is by no means a bad emblem of the formation 
of words, and may facilitate the conception, how immense 
a nomenclature may be organized from a few simple sounds by 
rational beings in a social state. For each new application, or 
excitement of the same sound, will call forth a different sensa- 
tion, which cannot but affect the pronunciation. The after 
recoUection of the sound, without the same vivid sensation, will 
modify it still further ; till at length all trace of the original hke- 
ness is worn away. 


62) Biographia Literaria ch. iv 

I word, and (this done) to appropriate that word exclusively 
to one meaning, and the synonyme (should there be one) 
to the other. But if (as will be often the case in the arts 
and sciences) no synonyme exists, we must either invent or 
borrow a word. In the present instance the appropriation 5 
has already begun, and been legitimated in the derivative 
adjective : Milton had a highly imaginative, Cowley a very 
fanciful mind. If therefore I should succeed in establishing 
the actual existences of two faculties generally different, 
the nomenclature would be at once determined. To the ^° 
faculty by which I had characterized Milton, we should con- 
fine the term imagination ; while the other would be contra- 
distinguished as fancy. Now were it once fully ascertained, 
that this division is no less grounded in nature, than that of 
dehrium from mania, or Otway's 'S 

" Lutes, lobsters, seas of milk, and ships of amber," 

from Shakespear's 

"What! have his daughters brought him to this pass?" 

or from the preceding apostrophe to the elements ; the 
theory of the fine arts, and of poetry in particular, could not, 20 
I thought, but derive some additional and important Hght. 
It would in its immediate effects furnish a torch of guidance 
to the philosophical critic ; and ultimately to the poet him- 
self. In energetic minds, truth soon changes by domestica- 
tion into power ; and from directing in the discrimination 25 
and appraisal of the product, becomes influencive in the 
production. To admire on principle, is the only way to 
imitate without loss of originahty. 

It has been already hinted, that metaphysics and psy- 
chology have long been my hobby-horse. But to have a 30 
hobby-horse, and to be vain of it, are so commonly found 
together, that they pass almost for the same. I trust there- 
fore, that there will be more good humour than contempt, 
in the smile with which the reader chastises my self-com- 

CH. IV Biographia Literaria 63 

placency, if I confess myself uncertain, whether the satisfac- 
tion from the perception of a truth new to myself may not 
have been rendered more poignant by the conceit, that it 
would be equally so to the pubhc. There was a time, 
5 certainly, in which I took some httle credit to myself, in 
the behef that I had been the first of my countrymen, who 
had pointed out the diverse meaning of which the two terms 
were capable, and analyzed the faculties to which they 
should be appropriated. Mr. W. Taylor's recent volume of 
10 synonymes I have not yet seen * ; but his specification of 

* I ought to have added, with the exception of a single sheet 
which I accidentally met with at the printer's. Even from this 
scanty specimen, I found it impossible to doubt the talent, or 
not to admire the ingenuity of the author. That his distinctions 
were for the greater part unsatisfactory to my mind, proves 
nothing against their accuracy ; but it may possibly be service- 
able to him, in case of a second edition, if I take this opportunity 
of suggesting the query ; whether he may not have been occa- 
sionally misled, by having assumed, as to me he appeared to 
have done, the non-existence of any absolute synonymes in our 
language ? Now I cannot but think, that there are many 
which remain for our posterity to distinguish and appropriate, 
and which I regard as so much reversionary weahh in our 
mother-tongue. When two distinct meanings are confounded 
under one or more words, (and such must be the case, as sure as 
our knowledge is progressive and of course imperfect) erroneous 
consequences wih be drawn, and what is true in one sense of the 
word wiU be affi.rmed as true in toto. Men of research, startled 
by the consequences, seek in the things themselves (whether in 
or out of the mind) for a knowledge of the fact, and having dis- 
covered the difference, remove the equivocation either by the 
substitution of a new. word, or by the appropriation of one of 
the two or more words, that had before been used promiscu- 
ously. When this distinction has been so naturahzed and of 
such general currency that the language itself does as it were 
think for us (Uke the shding rule which is the mechanic's safe 
substitute for arithmetical knowledge) we then say, that it is 
evident to common sense. Common sense, therefore, differs in 
different ages. What was born and christened in the schools 
passes by degrees into the world at large, and becomes the pro- 
perty of the market and the tea-table. At least I can discover 
no other meaning of the term, common sense, if it is to convey 
any specific difference from sense and judgement in genere, and 
where it is not used scholastically for the universal reason. 

(64 j Biographia Literaria ch. iv 

the terms in question has been clearly shown to be both 
insufficient and erroneous by Mr. Wordsworth in the Preface 
added to the late collection of his " Lyrical Ballads and other 
poems." The explanation which Mr. Wordsworth has him- 
self given will be found to differ from mine, chiefly perhaps, 5 
as our objects are different. It could scarcely indeed happen 
otherwise, from the advantage I have enjoyed of frequent 
conversation with him on a subject to which a poem of his 
own first directed my attention, and my conclusions con- 
cerning which, he had made more lucid to myself by many 10 
happy instances drawn from the operation of natural objects 
on the mind. But it was Mr. Wordsworth's purpose to 
consider the infiuences of fancy and imagination as they are 
manifested in poetry, and from the different effects to con- 
clude their diversity in kind ; while it is my object to investi- 15 
gate the seminal p rinciple, and then from the kind to deduce 
1 the degree. My friend has drawn a masterly sketch of the 
branches with their poetic fruitage. I wish to add the trunk, 
and even the roots as far as they Hft themselves above 
ground, and are visible to the naked eye of our common 20 

Yet even in this attempt I am aware, that I shall be 
obhged to draw more largely on the reader's attention, than 
so immethodical a miscellany can authorize ; when in such 
a work (the Ecclesiastical Polity) of such a mind as Hooker's, 25 
the judicious author, though no less admirable for the 
perspicuity than for the port and dignity of his language ; 
and though he wrote for men of learning in a learned age ; 
saw nevertheless occasion to anticipate and guard against 

Thus in the reign of Charles II. the philosophic world was called 
to arms by the moral sophisms of Hobbs, and the ablest 
writers exerted themselves in the detection of an error, which 
a school-boy would now be able to confute by the mere recol- 
lection, that compulsion and ohligation conveyed two ideas per- 
fectly disparate, and that what appertained to the one, had 
been falsely transferred to the other by a mere confusion of 

CH. IV Biographia Literaria 65 

" complaints of obscurity," as often as he was about to trace 
his subject "to the highest well-spring and fountain." 
Which, (continues he) " because men are not accustomed to, 
the pains we take are more needful a great deal, than accept- 

5 able ; and the matters we handle, seem by reason of newness 
(till the mind grow better acquainted with them) dark and 
intricate." I would gladly therefore spare both myself and 
others this labor, if I knew how without it to present an 
intelhgible statement of my poetic creed ; not as my 

10 opinions, which weigh for nothing, but as deductions from 
estabhshed premises conveyed in such a form, as is calcu- 
lated either to effect a fundamental conviction, or to receive 
a fundamental confutation. If I may dare once more 
adopt the words of Hooker, " they, unto whom we shall 

15 seem tedious, are in no wise injured by us, because it is in 
their own hands to spare that labor, which they are not 
wilhng to endure." Those atleast, let me be permitted to 
add, who have taken so much pains to render me ridiculous 
for a perversion of taste, and have supported the charge 

20 by attributing strange notions to me on no other authority 
than their own conjectures, owe it to themselves as well as to 
me not to refuse their attention to my own statement of the 
theory, which I do acknowledge ; or shrink from the trouble 
of examining the grounds on which I rest it, or the argu- 

25 ments which I offer in its justification. 


On the law of association — Its history traced from Aristotle to 

There have been men in all ages, who have been impelled 
as by an instinct to propose their own nature as a problem, 
and who devote their attempts to its solution. The first 
step was to construct a table of distinctions, which they 
30 seem to have formed on the principle of the absence or 


66 Biographia Literaria ch. v 

presence of the will. Our various sensations, perceptions, 
and movements were classed as active or passive, or as media 
partaking of both. A still finer distinction was soon estab- 
lished between the voluntary and the spontaneous. In 
our perceptions we seem to ourselves merely passive to an 5 
external power, whether as a mirror refiecting the landscape, 
or as a blank canvas on which some unknown hand paints 
it. For it is worthy of notice, that the latter, or the system 
of ideahsm may be traced to sources equally remote with the 
former, or materiahsm ; and Berkeley can boast an ancestry 10 
at least as venerable as Gassendi or Hobbs. These con- 
jectures, however, concerning the mode in which our per- 
ceptions originated, could not alter the natural difference 
of things and thoughts. In the former, the cause appeared 
wholly external, while in the latter, sometimes our will 15 
interfered as the producing or determining cause, and some- 
times our nature seemed to act by a mechanism of its own, 
without any conscious effort of the will, or even against it. 
Our inward experiences were thus arranged in three separate 
classes, the passive sense, or what the school-men call the 20 
merely receptive quahty of the mind ; the voluntary ; and 
the spontaneous, which holds the middle place between both. 
But it is not in human nature to meditate on any mode of 
action, without enquiring after the law that governs it ; 
and in the explanation of the spontaneous movements of our 25 
being, the metaphysician took the lead of the anatomist 
and natural philosopher. In Egypt, Palestine, Greece, and 
India the analysis of the mind had reached its noon and 
manhood, while experimental research was still in its dawn 
and infancy. For many, very many centuries, it has been 30 
difficult to advance a new truth, or even a new error, in the 
philosophy of the intellect or morals. With regard, however, 
to the laws that direct the spontaneous movements of thought 
and the principle of their intellectual mechanism there exists, 
it has been asserted, an important exception most honor- 35 

CH. V Biographia Literaria 67 

able to the moderns, and in the merit of which our own 
country claims the largest share. Sir James Mackintosh, 
(who amid the variety of his talents and attainments is not 
of less repute for the depth and accuracy of his philosophical 
6 enquiries than for the eloquence with which he is said to 
render their most difficult results perspicuous, and the driest 
attractive,) afhrmed in the lectures, deHvered by him in 
Linco]n's Inn Hall, that the law of association as estabhshed 
in the contemporaneity of the original impressions, formed 

10 the basis of all true psychology ; and any ontological 
or metaphysical science, not contained in such (i. e. 
empirical) psychology, was but a web of abstractions and 
generahzations. Of this prohfic truth, of this great funda- 
mental law, he declared Hobbs to have been the original 

15 discoverer, while its full apphcation to the whole intellectual 

system we owed to David Hartley ; who stood in the same re- 

lation to Hobbs as Newton to Kepler ; the law of association 

being that to the mind, which gravitation is to matter. 

\/ Of the former clause in this assertion, as it respects the 

20 comparative merits of the ancient metaphysicians, including 
their commentators, the school-men, and of the modern 
French and British philosophers from Hobbs to Hume, 
Hartley, and Condillac, this is not the place to speak. So 
wide indeed is the chasm between this gentleman's philo- 

25 sophical creed and mine, that so far from being able to join 
hands, we could scarcely make our voices intelligible to 
each other : and to" hridge it over, would require more time, 
skill, and power than I beheve myself to possess. But the 
latter clause involves for the greater part a mere question 

30 of fact and history, and the accuracy of the statement is to 
be tried by documents rather than reasoning. 

First, then, I deny Hobbs's claim in toto : for he had 
been anticipated by Des Cartes, whose work " De Methodo," 
preceded Hobbs's "De Natura Humana," by more than a 

35 year. But what is of much more importance, Hobbs builds 

F 2 

68/ Biographia Literaria ch. v 

nothing on the principle which he had announced. He 
does not even announce it, as differing in any respect from 
the general laws of material motion and impact : nor was it, 
indeed, possible for him so to do, compatibly with his system, 
which was exclusively material and mechanical. Far other- 5 
wise is it with Des Cartes ; greatly as he too in his after 
writings (and still more egregiously his followers De la Forge, 
and others) obscured the truth by their attempts to explain 
it on the theory of nervous fluids, and material configura- 
tions. But, in his interesting work, "De Methodo," Des 10 
Cartes relates the circumstance which first led him to medi- 
tate on this subject, and which since then has been often 
noticed and employed as an instance and illustration of the 
law. A child who with its eyes bandaged had lost several of 
his fingers by amputation, continued to complain for many 15 
days successively of pains, now in this joint and now in that, 
of the very fingers which had been cut off. Des Cartes was 
led by this incident to refiect on the uncertainty with which 
we attribute any particular place to any inward pain or un- 
easiness, and proceeded after long consideration to estabhsh 20 
it as a general law ; that contemporaneous impressions, 
whether images or sensations, recal each other mechanically. 
On this principle, as a ground work, he built up the whole 
system of human language, as one continued process of 
association. He showed in what sense not only general 25 
terms, but generic images (under the name of abstract ideas) 
actually existed, and in what consists their nature and power. 
As one word may become the general exponent of many, so 
by association a simple image may represent a whole class. 
But in truth Hobbshimself makes no claims to any discovery, 30 
and introduces this law of association, or (in his own lan- 
guage) discursus mentalis, as an admitted fact, in the solu- 
tion alone of which, this by causes purely physiological, 
he arrogates any originality. His system is briefly this ; \J 
whenever the senses are impinged on by external objects, 35 

CH. V Biographia Literaria 69 

whether by the rays of hght reflected from them, or by 
effluxes of their finer particles, there results a correspondent 
motion of the innermost and subtlest organs. This motion 
constitutes a representation, and there remains an impres- 
5 sion of the same, or a certain disposition to repeat the 
same motion. Whenever we feel several objects at the same 
time, the impressions that are left, (or in the language of 
Mr. Hume, the ideas,) are hnked together. Whenever there- 
fore any one of the movements, which constitute a complex 

10 impression, is renewed through the senses, the others succeed 

^echanically^ It follows of necessity therefore that Hobbs 

as well as Hartley and all others who derive association from 

the connection and interdependence of the supposed matter, 

the movements of which constitute our thoughts, must have 

15 reduced all its forms to the one law of time. But even the 
merit of announcing this law with philosophic precision 
cannot be fairly conceded to him. For the objects of any 
two ideas '* need not have co-existed in the same sensation 

* I here use the word "idea" inMr. Hume's sense on account 
of its general currency amongst the English metaphysicians ; 
though against my own judgement, for I believe that the vague 
use of this wOrd has been the cause of much error and more 
confusion. The word, l?)ea, in its original sense as used by 
Pindar, Aristophanes, and in the Gospel of St. Matthew, repre- 
sented the visual abstraction of a distant object, when we see 
the whole without distinguishing its parts. Plato adopted it 
as a technical term, and as the antithesis to eiScoXa, or sen- 
suous images ; the transient and perishable emblems, or mental 
words, of ideas. The ideas themselves he considered as mys- 
terious powers, living, seminal, formative, and exempt from 
time. In this sense the word became the property of the 
Platonic school ; and it seldom occurs in Aristotle, without 
some such phrase annexed to it, as according to Plato, or as 
Plato says. Our Enghsh writers to the end of Charles 
2nd's reign, or somewhat later, employed it either in the 
original sense, or platonically, or in a sense nearly correspondent 
to our present use of the substantive, Ideal, always however 
opposing it, more or less, to image, whether of present or absent 
objects. The reader will not be displeased with the foUow- 
ing interesting exempHfication from Bishop Jeremy Taylor. 
" St. Lewis the King sent Ivo Bishop of Chartres on an embassy, 

70 Biographia Literaria ch. v 

in order to become mutually associable. The same result 
will follow when one only of the two ideas has been repre- 
sented by the senses, and the other by the memory, 
^ Long however before either Hobbs or Des Cartes the 
law of association had been defined, and its important 5 
functions set forth by Melanchthon, Ammerbach, and Ludo- 
vicus Vives ; more especially by the last. Phantasia, it is 
to be noticed, is employed by Vives to express the mental 
power of comprehension, or the active function of the mind ; \y 
and imaginatio for the receptivity (vis receptiva) of impres- 10 
sions, or for the passive perception. The power of com- 
bination he appropriates to the former: "quae singula et 
simphciter acceperat imaginatio, ea conjungit et disjungit 
phantasia." And the law by which the thoughts are spon- 
taneously presented follows thus ; " quae simul sunt a phan- 15 
tasia comprehensa, si alterutrum occurrat, solet secum 
alterum reprsesentare." To time therefore he subordinates 
all the other exciting causes of association. The soul pro- 
ceeds " a causa ad effectum, ab hoc ad instrumentum, a parte 
ad totum; " thence to the place, from place to person, and 20 

and he told, that he met a grave and stately matron on the way 
with a censer of fire in one hand, and a vessel of water in the 
other ; and observing her to have a melancholy, rehgious, and 
phantastic deportment and look, he asked her what those 
symbols meant, and what she meant to do with her fire and 
water ; she answered, my purpose is with the fire to burn para- 
dise, and with my water to quench the flames of hell, that men 
may serve God purely for the love of God. But we rarely 
meet with such spirits which love virtue so metaphysically as 
io abstract her from all sensible compositions, and love the purity 
of the idea." Des Cartes having introduced into his philosophy 
the fanciful hypothesis of material ideas, or certain configura- 
tions of the brain, which were as so many moulds to the influxes 
of the external world ; Mr. Locke adopted the term, but ex- 
tended its signification to whatever is the immediate object 
of the mind's attention or consciousness. Mr. Hume, distin- 
guishing those representations wliich are accompanied with 
a sense of a presentobject, from those reproduced by the mind 
itself, designated the former by impressions, and confined the 
word idea to the latter. 

cH. V Biographia Literaria 71 

from this to whatever preceded or followed, all as being parts 
of a total impression, each of which may recal the other. The 
apparent springs " Saltus vel transitus etiam longissimos," 
he explains by the same thought having been a component 
5 part of two or more total impressions. Thus " ex Scipione 
venio in cogitationem potentiae Turcicae, propter victorias 
ejus in ea parte Asise in qua regnabat Antiochus." 

But from Vives I pass at once to the source of his doctrines, 
and (as far as we can judge from the remains yet extant of 

10 Greek philosophy) as to the first, so to the fullest and most 
perfect enunciation of the associative principle, viz. to 
the writings of Aristotle ; and of these in particular to the 
books "De Anima," "De Memoria," and that which is en- 
titled in the old translations " Parva Naturaha." In as 

15 much as later writers have either deviated from, or added 
to his doctrines, they appear to me to have introduced either 
error or groundless supposition. 

In the first place it is to be observed, that Aristotle's 
positions on this subject are unmixed with fiction. The 

20 wise Stagyrite speaks of no successive particles propagating 
motion hke bilHard balls, (as Hobbs) ; nor of nervous or 
animal spirits, where inanimate and irrational sohds are 
thawed down, and distilled, or filtrated by ascension, into 
hving and intelhgent fiuids, that etch and re-etch engravings 

25 on the brain, (as the followers of Des Cartes, and the humoral 
pathologists in general) ; nor of an oscillating ether which 
was to effect the-same service for the nerves of the brain 
considered as sohd fibres, as the animal spirits perform for 
them under the notion of hollow tubes (as Hartley teaches) — 

30 nor finally, (with yet more recent dreamers) of chemical 
compositions by elective affinity, or of an electric hght at 
once the immediate object and the ultimate organ of inward 
vision, which rises to the brain hke an Aurora Boreahs, and 
there disporting in various shapes (as the balance of plus and 

35 minus, or negative and positive,is destroyed or re-estabhshed) 

72 Biographia Literaria ch. v 

images out both past and present. Aristotle delivers a just 
theory without pretending to an hypothesis ; or in other 
words a comprehensive survey of the different facts, and of 
their relations to each other without snpposition, i.e. a fact 
piaced under a number of facts, as their common support 5 
and explanation ; though in the majority of instances these 
hypotheses or suppositions better deserve the name of 
vTroTToirjcrei^, or suffictions. He uses indeed the word /«vT^o-ets, 
to express what we call representations or ideas, but he 
carefully distinguishes them from material motion, desig- 10 
nating the latter always by annexing the words cv TOTno, or 
KaTo. TOTTov. Ou the coutrary, in his treatise " De Anima," 
he excludes place and motion from all the operations of 
thought, whether representations or voHtions, as attributes 
utterly and absurdly heterogeneous. 15 

ly The general law of association, or, more accurately, the 
cotnmon condition under which all exciting causes act, and 
in which they may be generahzed, according to Aristotle is 
this. Ideas by having been together acquire a power of 
recalhng each other ; or every partial representation awakes 20 
the total representation of which it had been a part. In the 
practical determination of this common principle to particular 
recollections, he admits five agents or occasioning causes : 
ist, connection in time, whether simultaneous, preceding, or 
successive ; 2nd, vicinity or connection in space ; 3rd, 25 
interdependence or necessary connection, as cause and 
effect ; 4th, hkeness ; and 5th, contrast. As an additional 
solution of the occasional seeming chasms in the continuity 
of reproduction he proves, that movements or ideas posses- 
sing one or the other of these five characters had passed 30 
through the mind as intermediate hnks, sufficiently clear to 
recall other parts of the same total impressions with which 
they had co-existed, though not vivid enough to excite that 
degree of attention which is requisite for distinct recollection, 
or as we may aptly express it, ajter-consciousness. In asso- 35 

CH. V Biographia Literaria 73 

ciation then consists the whole mechanism of the reproduc- 
tion of impressions, in the Aristotehan Psychology. It is the 
universal law of the passive fancy and mechanical memory ; 
that which supphes to all other faculties their objects, to all 
5 thought the elements of its materials. 

In consulting the excellent commentary of St. Thomas 
Aquinas on the Parva Naturaha of Aristotle, I was struck 
at once with its close resemblance to Hume's Essay on 
association. The main thoughts were the same in both, the 

10 order of the thoughts was the same, and even the illustrations 
dif^ered only by Hume's occasional substitution of more 
modern examples. I mentioned the circumstance to several 
of my hterary acquaintances, who admitted the closeness 
of the resemblance, and that it seemed too great to be ex- 

15 plained by mere coincidence ; but they thought it im- 
probable that Hume should have held the pages of the angehc 
Doctor worth turning over. But some time after Mr. Payne, 
of the King's mews, shewed Sir James Mackintosh some odd 
volumes of St. Thomas Aquinas, partly perhaps from having 

20 heard that Sir James (then Mr.) Mackintosh had in his 
lectures passed a high encomium on this canonized philo- 
sopher, but chiefiy from the fact, that the volumes had 
belonged to Mr. Hume, and had here and there marginal 
marks and notes of reference in his own hand writing. 

25 Among these volumes was that which contains the Parva 

Naturalia, in the old Latin version, swathed and swaddled in 

the commentary afore mentioned ! 

L/ It remains then for me, first to state wherein Hartley 

differs from Aristotle ; then, to exhibit the grounds of my 

30 conviction, that he differed only to err ; and next as the 
result, to shew, by what influences of the choice and judge- 
ment thej,ssociative power becomes either memory or fancy; 
and, in conclusion, to appropriate the remaining ofiices of 
the mind to the reason, and the imagination. With my best 

35 efforts to be as perspicuous as the nature of language will 

74 Biogmphta Literaria ch. vi 

permit on such a subject, I earnestly solicit the good wishes 
and friendly patience of my readers, while I thus go " sound- 
ing on my dim and perilous way." 


That Hartley's system, as far as it differs from that of Aristotle, 
is neither tenable in theory, nor founded in facts. 

Of Hartley's hypothetical vibrations in his hypothetical 
oscillating ether of the nerves, which is the first and most 5 
obvious distinction between his system and that of Aristotle, 
I shall say Httle. This, with all other similar attempts to 
render that an object of the sight which has no relation to 
sight, has been already sufhciently exposed by the younger 
Reimarus, Maasse, &c., as outraging the very axioms of 10 
mechanics in a scheme, the merit of which consists in its 
being mechanical. Whether any other philosophy be pos- 
sible, but the mechanical ; and again, whether the mechani- 
cal system can have any claim to be called philosophy ; are 
questions for another place. It is, however, certain, that 15 
as long as we deny the former, and affirm the latter, we must 
bewilder ourselves, whenever we would pierce into the adyta 
of causation ; and all that laborious conjecture can do, is to 
fill up the gaps of fancy. Under that despotism of the eye 
(the emancipation from which Pythagoras by his numeral, 20 
and Plato by his miisical symbols, and both by geometric 
discipline, aimed at, as the first TrpoTrai8evfia of the mind) — 
under this strong sensuous infiuence, we are restless because 
invisible things are not the objects of vision ; and meta- 
physical systems, for the most part, become popular, not for 25 
their truth, but in proportion as they attribute to causes 
a susceptibility of being seen, if only our visual organs were 
sufiiciently powerful. 

From a hundred possible confutations let one suffice. 
According to tliis system the idea or vibration a from the 30 

CH. VI Biographia Literaria 75 

external object A becomes associable with the idea or 
vibration m from the external object M, because the oscilla- 
tion a propagated itself so as to re-produce the oscillation m. 
But the original impression from M was essentially different 
6 from the impression A : unless therefore different causes 
may produce the same effect, the vibration a could never 
produce the vibration m : and this therefore could never be 
the means, by which a and m are associated. To under- 
stand this, the attentive reader need only be reminded, that 

10 the ideas are themselves, in Hartley's system, nothing more 
than their appropriate configurative vibrations. It is a 
mere delusion of the fancy to conceive the pre-existence of 
the ideas, in any chain of association, as so many differently 
coloured bilhard-balls in contact, so that when an object, the 

15 bilhard-stick, strikes the first or white ball, the same motion 
propagates itself through the red, green, blue, and black, 
and sets the whole in motion. No ! we must suppose the 
very same force, which constitntes the white ball, to consti- 
tnte the red or black; or the idea of a circle to constitnte the 

20 idea of a triangle ; which is impossible. 

But it may be said, that by the sensations from the objects 
A and M, the nerves have acquired a disposition to the 
vibrations a and m, and therefore a need only be repeated 
in order to re-produce m. Now we will grant, for a moment, 

25 the possibihty of such a disposition in a material nerve, 
which yet seems scarcely less absurd than to say, that a 
weather-cock had acquired a hahit of turning to the east, 
from the wind having been so long in that quarter : for if it 
be rephed, that we must take in the circumstance of Ufe, 

30 what then becomes of the mechanical philosophy ? And 
what is the nerve, but the fiint which the wag placed in the 
pot as the first ingredient of his stone-broth, requiring only 
salt, turnips, and mutton, for the remainder ! But if we 
waive this, and pre-suppose the actual existence of such 

35 a disposition ; two cases are possible. Either, every idea 

76 Biographia Literaria ch. vi 

has its own nerve and correspondent oscillation, or this is 
not the case. If the latter be the truth, we should gain 
nothing by these dispositions ; for then, every nerve having 
several dispositions, when the motion of any other nerve 
is propagated into it, there will be no ground or cause 5 
present, why exactly the oscillation m should arise, rather 
than any other to which it was equally pre-disposed. But 
if we take the former, and let every idea have a nerve of 
its own, then every nerve must be capable of propagating its 
motion into many other nerves ; and again, there is no 10 
reason assignable, why the vibration yn should arise, rather 
than any other ad Hbitum. 

It is fashionable to smile at Hartley's vibrations and 
vibratiuncles ; and his work has been re-edited by Priestley, 
with the omission of the niaterial hypothesis. But Hartley 15 
was too great a man, too coherent a thinker, for this to 
have been done, either consistently or to any wise purpose. 
For all other parts of his system, as far as they are peculiar 
to that system, once removed from their mechanical basis, 
not only lose their main support, but the very motive which 20 
led to their adoption. Thus the principle of contemporaneity , 
which Aristotle had made the common condition of all the 
laws of association, Hartley was constrained to represent as 
being itself the sole law. For to what law can the action of 
material atoms be subject, but that of proximity in place ? 25 
And to what law can their motions be subjected, but that of 
time ? Again, from this results inevitably, that the will, the 
reason, the judgement, and the understanding, instead of 
being the determining causes of association, must needs be 
represented as its creatures, and among its mechanical effects. 30 
Conceive, for instance, a broad stream, winding through 
a mountainous country with an indefinite number of currents, 
varying and running into each other according as the gusts 
chance to blow from the opening of the mountains. The 
temporary union of several currents in one, so as to form 3.') 

CH, VI Biographia Literaria 77 

the main current of the moment, would present an accurate 
image of Hartley's theory of the will. 

Had this been really the case, the consequence would 
have been, that our whole hfe would be divided between the 
5 despotism of outward impressions, and that of senseless and 
passive memory. Take his law in its highest abstraction 
and most philosophical form, viz. that every partial repre- 
sentation recahs the total representation of which it was a 
part ; and the law becomes nugatory, were it only for its 

10 universahty. In practice it would indeed be mere lawless- 
ness. Consider, how immense must be the sphere of a total 
impression from the top of St. PauFs church ; and how 
rapid and continuous the series of such total impressions. 
If therefore we suppose the absence of all interference of the 

15 will, reason, and judgement, one or other of two consequences 
must result. Either the ideas, (or rehcs of such impres- 
sion,) will exactly imitate the order of the impression 
itself, which would be absolute delirium : or any one part 
of that impression might recall any other part, and (as from 

20 the law of continuity, there must exist in every total impres- 
sion, some one or more parts, which are components of 
some other following total impression, and so on ad in- 
finitum) awy part of any impression might recall any part 
of any other, without a cause present to determine whai it 

25 should be. For to bring in the will, or reason, as causes of 
their own cause, that is, as at once causes and effects, can 
satisfy those only"who, in their pretended evidences of a 
God, having first demanded organization, as the sole cause 
and ground of intellect, will then coolly demand the pre- 

30 existence of intellect, as the cause and ground-work of 
organization. There is in truth but one state to which this 
theory applies at all, namely, that of complete light- 
headedness ; and even to this it applies but partially, 
because the will and reason are perhaps never whoUy 

35 suspended. 

78 Biographia Literaria ch. vi 

A case of this kind occurred in a Catholic town in Germany 
a year or two before my arrival at Gottingen, and had not 
then ceased to be a frequent subject of conversation. A 
young woman of four or five and twenty, who could neither 
read nor write, was seized with a nervous fever ; during 5 
which, according to the asseverations of all the priests and 
monks of the neighbourhood, she became possessed, and, as 
it appeared, by a very learned devil. She continued inces- 
santly talking Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, in very pompous 
tones and with most distinct enunciation. This possession 10 
was rendered more probable by the known fact, that she 
was or had been a heretic. Voltaire humorously advises 
the devil to decline all acquaintance with medical men ; 
and it would have been more to his reputation, if he had 
taken this advice in the present instance. The case had 15 
attracted the particular attention of a young physician, and 
by his statement, many eminent physiologists and psycho- 
logists visited the town, and cross-examined the case on the 
spot. Sheets full of her ravings were taken down from her 
own mouth, and were found to consist of sentences, coherent 20 
and intelhgible each f or itself, but with httle or no connection 
with each other. Of the Hebrew, a small portion only 
could be traced to the Bible ; the remainder seemed to be in 
the rabbinical dialect. All trick or conspiracy was out of the 
question. Not only had the young woman ever been a harm- 25 
less, simple creature ; but she was evidently labouring under 
a nervous fever. In the town, in which she had been resi- 
dent for many years as a servant in different famihes, no 
solution presented itself. The young physician, however, 
determined to trace her past hfe step by step ; f or the patient 30 
herself was incapable of returning a rational answer. He at 
length succeeded in discovering the place, where her parents 
had Hved : travelled thither, found them dead, but an uncle 
surviving ; and from him learnt, that the patient had been 
charitably taken by an old Protestant pastor at nine years 35 

CH. VI Bwgraphia Literaria 79 

old, and had remained with him some years, even till the 
old man's death. Of this pastor the uncle knew nothing, but 
that he was a very good man. VVith great difficulty, and 
after much search, our young medical philosopher discovered 
5 a niece of the pastor's, who had hved with him as his house- 
keeper, and had inherited his effects. She remembered the 
girl ; related, that her venerable uncle had been too indul- 
gent, and could not bear to hear the girl scolded ; that she 
was wilhng to have kept her, but that, after her patron's 

10 death, the girl herself refused to stay. Anxious enquiries 
were then, of course, made concerning the pastor's habits ; 
and the solution of the phenomenon was soon obtained. 
For it appeared, that it had been the old man's custom, for 
years, to walk up and down a passage of his house into which 

15 the kitchen door opened, and to read to himself with a loud 
voice, out of his favorite books. A considerable number 
of these were still in the niece's possession. She added, that 
he was a very learned man and a great Hebraist. Among 
the books were found a collection of rabbinical writings, 

20 together with several of the Greek and Latin fathers ; and 
the physician succeeded in identifying so many passages 
with those taken down at the young woman's bedside, that 
no doubt could remain in any rational mind concerning 
the true origin of the impressions made on her nervous 

25 system. 

This authenticated case furnishes both proof and instance, 
that rehques of sensa"tion may exist for an indefinite time in 
a latent state, in the very same order in which they were 
originally impressed ; and as we cannot rationally suppose 

30 the feverish state of the brain to act in any other way than 
as a stimulus, this fact (and it would not be difficult to ad- 
duce several of the same kind) contributes to make it even 
probable, that all thoughts are in themselves imperishable ; 
and, that if the intelhgent faculty should be rendered more 

35 comprehensive, it would require only a different and appor- 

8o Biographia Literaria ch. vi 

tioned organization, the body celestial instead of the hody ter- 
restrial, to bring before every human soul the collective 
experience of its whole past existence. And this, this, per- 
chance, is the dread book of judgement, in whose mys- 
terious hieroglyphics every idle word is recorded ! Yea, in 5 
the very nature of a hving spirit, it may be more possible 
that heaven and earth should pass away, than that a single 
act, a single thought, should be loosened or lost from that 
hving chain of causes, to all whose hnks, conscious or un- 
conscious, the free-will, ouronlyabsolute self, is co-extensive 10 
and co-present. But not now dare I longer discourse of this, 
waiting for a loftier mood, and a nobler subject, warned 
from within and from without, that it is profanation to 
speak of these mysteries * rots ix-q^l ^arrao-^eto-tv, ws Kokov to 

T^S SiKaiocrvi^s Kcu crw<f>pO(rvvr)S TrpocrioTrov Kat ws ovre eo^Trepos ovre 15 
ewos ovTO) Ka\d. To yap 6p<l>v Trpos to opwyitevov crvyyevks Kai 
6/xotov TTOLrjcrdfJievov 8et e7rt/3aAAetv ttj ^ea. ov yap av TrwTroTe eiScv 
6(l>6a\fi6<i ■^Xlov, i^XtoetS^s /a^ y€yev7;/xcvos' ovSc to KaXov av tSot 
'A^X')' H-V K^o-^V yivofxivq. — PlOTINUS. 


Of the necessary consequences of the Hartleian theory — Of the 
original mistake or equivocation which procured admission for 
the theory — Memoria Technica. 

We will pass by the utter incompatibility of such a law (if 20 
law itmay be called,whichwoulditself bethe slaveof chances) 

* " To those to whose imagination it has never been 
presented, how beautiful is the countenance of justice and 
wisdom ; and that neither the morning nor the evening 
star are so fair. For in order to direct the view aright, 
it behoves that the beholder should have made himself 
congenerous and similar to the object beheld. Never could 
the eye have beheld the sun, had not its own essence been 
soliform," (i. e. pre-configured to light by a similarity of essence 
with that of light) " neither can a soul not beautiful attain to 
an intuition of beauty." 

CH. VII Biographia Literaria 8i 

with even that appearance of rationahty forced upon us 
by the outward phsenomena of human conduct, abstracted 
from our own consciousness. We will agree to forget this 
for the moment, in order to fix our attention on that sub- 
5 ordination of final to efhcient causes in the human being, 
which flows of necessity from the assumption, that the will 
and, with the will, all acts of thought and attention are parts 
and products of this bhnd mechanism, instead of being dis- 
tinct powers, whose function it is to controul, determine, 

lo and modify the phantasmal chaos of association. The 
soul becomes a mere ens logicum ; for, as a real separable 
being, it would be more worthless and ludicrous than the 
Grimalkins in the Cat-harpsichord, describedin the Spectator. 
For these did form a part of the process ; but, in Hartley's 

1 5 scheme, the soul is present only to be pinched or stroked, 
while the very squeals or purring are produced by an agency 
wholly independent and ahen. It involves all the difficul- 
ties, all the incomprehensibihty (if it be not indeed, ws e/Aotyc 
SoKct, the absurdity), of intercommunion between substances 

20 that have no one property in common, without any of the 
convenient consequences that bribed the judgement to the 
admission of the dualistic hypothesis. Accordingly, this 
'caput mortuum' of the Hartleian process has been rejected 
by his foUowers, and the consciousness considered as a result, 

25 as a tune, the common product of the breeze and the harp : 
though this again is the mere remotion of one absurdity to 
make way for another, equally preposterous. For what is 
harmony but a mode of relation, the very esse of which is 
percipi ? An ens rationale, which pre-supposes the power, 

30 that by perceiving creates it ? The razor's edge becomes 
a saw to the armed vision ; and the dehcious melodies of 
Purcell or Cimarosa might be disjointed stammerings to 
a hearer, whose partition of time should be a thousand times 
subtler than ours. But this obstacle too let us imagine our- 

35 selves to have surmounted, and " at one bound high overleap 


82 Biographia Literaria ch. vh 

all bound!" Yet according to this hypothesis the disquisi- 
tion, to which I am at present sohciting the reader's atten- 
tion, may be as truly said to be written by Saint PauFs 
church, as by me : for it is the mere motion of my muscles 
and nerves ; and these again are set in motion from external 5 
causes equally passive, which external causes stand them- 
selves in interdependent connection with every thing that 
exists or has existed. Thus the whole universe co-operates 
to produce the minutest stroke of every letter, save only that 
I myself, and I alone, have nothing to do with it, but merely 10 
the causeless and effectless beholding of it when it is done. 
Yet scarcely can it be called a beholding ; for it is neither an 
act nor an effect ; but an impossible creation of a something- 
nothing out of its very contrary ! It is the mere quick-silver 
plating behind a looking-glass ; and in this alone consists 15 
the poor worthless I ! The sum total of my moral and intel- 
lectual intercourse, dissolved into its elements, is reduced to 
extension, motion, degrees of velocity, and those diminished 
copies of configurative motion, which form what we call 
notions, and notions of notions. Of such philosophy well 20 
might Butler say — 

"The metaphysic's but a puppet motion 

That goes with screws, the notion of a notion ; 

The copy of a copy and lame draught 

Unnaturally taken from a thought : 25 

That counterfeits all pantomimic tricks, 

And turns the eyes, hke an old crucifix ; 

That counterchanges whatsoe'er it calls 

B' another name, and makes it true or false ; 

Turns truth to falsehood, falsehood into truth, 30 

By virtue of the Babylonian's tooth." 


The inventor of the watch, if this doctrine be true, did 
not in reahty invent it ; he only looked on, while the bhnd 
causes, the only true artists, were unfolding themselves. So 
must it have been too with my friend Allston, when he 35 

CH. vii Biogmphia Literaria 83 

sketched his picture of the dead man revived by the bones 
of the prophet Ehjah. So must it have been with Mr. 
SouTHEY and Lord Byron, when the one fancied himself 
composing his " Roderick," and the other his " Childe 
5 Harold." The same must holdgoodof all systems of philo- 
sophy ; of all arts, governments, wars by sea and by land ; 
in short, of all things that ever have been or that ever will be 
produced. For, according to this system, it is not the 
affections and passions that are at work, in as far as they are 

10 sensations or thoughts. We only fancy, that we act from 
rational resolves, or prudent motives, or from impulses of 
anger, love, or generosity. In all these cases the real agent 
is a something-nothing-every-thing, which does all of which 
we know, and knows nothing of all that itself does. 

15 The existence of an infinite spirit, of an intelhgent and 
holy will, must, on this system, be mere articulated motions 
of the air. For as the function of the human understanding 
is no other than merely (to appear to itself) to combine and 
to apply the phaenomena of the association ; and as these 

20 derive all their reahty from the primary sensations ; and 
the sensations again all their reahty from the impressions ab 
extra ; a God not visible, audible, or tangible, can exist 
only in the sounds and letters that form his name and 
attributes. If in ourselves there be no such faculties as those 

25 of the will, and the scientific reason, we must either have 
an innate idea of them, which would overthrow the whole 
system ; or we can have no idea at all. The process, by 
which Hume degraded the notion of cause and effect into 
a bhnd product of delusion and habit, into the mere sensa- 

30 tion of proceeding hfe (nisus vitahs) associated with the 
images of the memory ; this same process must be repeated 
to the equal degradation of every fundamental idea in ethics 
or theology. 

Far, very far am I from burthening with the odium of 

35 these consequences the moral characters of those who first 

G 2 

84 Biographia Literaria ch. vn 

formed, or have since adopted the system ! It is most 
noticeable of the excellent and pious Hartley, that, in the 
proofs of the existence and attributes of God, with which 
his second volume commences, he makes no reference to the 
principle or results of the first. Nay, he assumes, as his 5 
foundations, ideas which, if we embrace the doctrines of his 
first volume, can exist no where but in the vibrations of the 
ethereal medium common to the nerves and to the atmo- 
sphere. Indeed the whole of the second volume is, with the 
fewest possible exceptions, independent of his pecuhar sys- 10 
tem. So true is it, that the faith, which saves and sanctifies, 
is a collective energy, a total act of the whole moral being ; 
that its hving sensorium is in the heart ; and that no errors 
of the understanding can be morally arraigned unless they 
have proceeded from the heart. — But whether they be such, 15 
no man can be certain in the case of another, scarcely 
perhaps even in his own. Hence it follows by inevitable 
consequence, that man may perchance determine what is 
anheresy; but God only can know, ze^Ao is a heretic. It does 
not, however, by any means follow that opinions funda- 20 
mentally false are harmless. An hundred causes may co- 
exist to form one complex antidote. Yet the sting of the 
adder remains venomous, though there are many who have 
taken up the evil thing ; and it hurted them not ! Some 
indeed there seem to have been,in anunfortunate neighbour- 25 
nation at least, who have embraced this system with a full 
view of all its moral and rehgious consequences ; some — 

" who deem themselves most free, 

When they within this gross and visible sphere 

Chain down the winged thought, scofhng ascent, 30 

Proud in their meanness ; and themselves they cheat 

With noisy emptiness of learned phrase, 

Their subtle fluids, impacts, essences, 

Self-working tools, uncaus'd effects, and all 

Those bhnd omniscients, those Almighty slaves, 35 

Untenanting Creation of its God ! " 

CH. VII Biographia Literaria 85 

Such men need discipline, not argument ; they must be 
made better men, before they can become wiser. 

The attention will be more profitably employed in attempt- 
ing to discover and expose the paralogisms, by the magic of 

5 which such a faith could find admission into minds framed 
for a nobler creed. These, it appears to me, may be all 
reduced to one sophism as their common genus ; the mis- 
taking the conditions of a thing for its causes and essence ; 
and the process, by which we arrive at the knowledge of a 

10 faculty, for the faculty itself. The air I breathe is the 
condition of my Hfe, not its cause. We could never have 
learnt that we had eyes but by the process of seeing ; yet 
having seen we know that the eyes must have pre-existed 
in order to render the process of sight possible. Let us cross- 

15 examine Hartley's scheme under the guidance of this dis- 
tinction ; and we shall discover, that contemporaneity, 
(Leibnitz's Lex Continui,) is the limit and condition of the 
laws of mind, itself being rather a law of matter, at least of 
phsenomena considered as material. At the utmost, it is to 

20 thought the same, as the law of gravitation is to loco-motion. 
In every voluntary movement we first counteract gravita- 
tion, in order to avail ourselves of it. It must exist, that 
there may be a something to be counteracted, and which, by 
its re-action, may aid the force that is exerted to resist it. 

25 Let us consider what we do when we leap. We first resist 
the gravitating power by an act purely voluntary, and then 
by another act, voluntary in part, we yield to it in order to 
Hght on the spot, which we had previously proposed to our- 
selves. Now let a man watch his mind while he is composing ; 

30 or, to take a still more common case, while he is trying to 
recoUect a name ; and he will find the process completely 
analogous. Most of my readers will have observed a small 
water-insect on the surface of rivulets, which throws a 
cinque-spotted shadow fringed with prismatic colours on the 

?5 sunny bottom of the brook ; and will have noticed, how the 

86 Biographia Literaria ch. vn 

little animal wins its way up against the stream, by alternate 
pulses of active and passive motion, now resisting the cur- 
rent, and now yielding to it in order to gather strength and 
a momentary fulcnim for a further propulsion. This is no 
unapt emblem of the mind's self-experience in the act of 5 
thinking. There are evidently two powers at work, which 
relatively to each other are active- and passive ; and this is 
not possible without an intermediate faculty, which is at 
once both active and passive. (In philosophical language, 
we must denominate this intermediate faculty in all its 10 
degrees and determinations, the Imagination. But, in 
common language, and especially on the subject of poetry, 
we appropriate the name to a superior degree of the faculty, 
joined to a superior voluntary controul over it.) 

Contemporaneity, then, being the common condition of 15 
all the laws of association, and a component element in all 
the materia subjecta, the parts of which are tobeassociated, 
must needs be co-present with all. Nothing, therefore, 
can be more easy than to pass off on an incautious mind this 
constant companion of each, for the essential substance of 20 
all. But if we appeal to our own consciousness, we shall 
find that even time itself, as the cause of a particular act of 
association, is distinct from contemporaneity, as the condi- 
tion of all association. Seeing a mackerel, it may happen, 
that I immediately think of gooseberries, because I at the 25 
same time ate mackerel with gooseberries as the sauce. The 
first syllable of the latter word, being that which had co- 
existed with the image of the bird so called, I may then 
think of a goose. In the next moment the image of a swan 
may arise before me, though I had never seen the two birds 30 
together. In the two former instances, I am conscious that 
their co-existence in time was the circumstance, that enabled 
me to recollect them ; and equally conscious am I that the 
latter was recalled to me by the joint operation of hkeness 
and contrast. So it is with cause and effect ; so too with 35 

CH. VII Biographia Literaria 87 

orier. So I am able to distinguish whether it was proximity 
in time, or continuity in space, that occasioned me to recall 
B. on the mention of A. They cannot be indeed separated 
from contemporaneity ; for that would be to separate them 
5 from the mind itself. The act of consciousness is indeed 
identical with time considered in its essence. (I mean time 
per se, as contra-distinguished from our notion of time ; for 
this is always blended with the idea of space, which, as the 
contrary of time, is therefore its measure.) Nevertheless 

1° the accident of seeing two objects at the same moment acts 
as a distinguishable cause from that of having seen them at 
the same place : and the true practical general law of 
association is this ; that whatever makes certain parts of 
a total impression more vivid or distinct than the rest, will 

15 determine the mind to recall these in preference to others 
equally hnked together by the common condition of con- 
temporaneity, or (what I deem a more appropriate and 
philosophical term) of continuity. But the will itself by 
confining and intensifying * the attention may arbitrarily 

20 give vividness or distinctness to any object whatsoever ; and 
from hence we may deduce the uselessness, if not the absur- 
dity, of certain recent schemes which promise an artificial 
memory, but which in reahty can only produce a confusion 
and debasement of the fancy. Sound logic, as the habitual 

35 subordination of the individual to the species, and of the 
species to the genus ; philosophical knowledge of facts under 

* I am aware, that this word occurs neither in Johnson's 
Dictionary or in any classical writer. But the word, " to intend," 
which Newton and others before him employ in this sense, is 
now so completely appropriated to another meaning, that I 
could not use it without ambiguity : while to paraphrase the 
sense, as by render intense, would often break up the sentence 
and destroy that harmony of the position of the words with 
the logical position of the thoughts, which is a beauty in all 
composition, and more especially desirable in a close philo- 
soptucal investigation. I have therefore hazarded the word, 
intensify : though, I confess, it sounds uncouth to my own ear. 

88 Biographia Ltteraria ch. vh 

the relation of cause and effect ; a chearful and communi- 
cative temper disposing us to notice the similarities and con- 
trasts of things, that we may be able to illustrate the one 
by the other ; a quiet conscience ; a condition free from 
anxieties ; sound health, and above all (as far as relates to 5 
passive remembrance) a healthy digestion ; these are the 
best, these are the only Arts of Memory. 


The system of Dualism introdiiced by Des Cartes — Refined first 
by Spinoza and afterwards by Leibnitz into the doctrine of Har- 
monia prcsstabilita — Hylozoism — Materialism — Neither of 
these systems, or any possible theory of association, supplies or 
supersedes a theory of perception, or explains the formation 
of the associable. 

To the best of my knowledge Des Cartes was the first 
philosopher, who introduced the absolute and essential 
heterogeneity of the soul as intelhgence, and the body as 10 
matter. The assumption, and the form of speaking have 
remained, though the denial of all other properties to 
matter but that of extension, on which denial the whole 
system of duahsm is grounded, has been long exploded. 
For since impenetrabihty is intelhgible only as a mode of 15 
resistance ; its admission places the essence of mattcr in an 
act or power, which it possesses in common with spirit ; 
and body and spirit are therefore no longer absolutely 
heterogeneous, but may without any ahsurdity be sup- 
posed to be different modes, or degrees in perfection, of 20 
a common substratum. To this possibihty, however, it was 
not the fashion to advert. The soul was a thinking sub- 
stance ; and body a space-filling substance. Yet the ap- 
parent action of each on the other pressed heavy on the 
philosopher on the one hand ; and no less heavily on the 25 
other hand pressed the evident truth, that the law of 
causahty holds only between homogeneous things, i. e. 

CH. VIII Biogmphia Literaria 89 

things having some common property ; and cannot extend 
from one world into another, its opposite. A close analysis 
evinced it to be no less absurd than the question whether 
a man's affection for his wife, lay North-east, or South-west 
5 of the love he bore towards his child. Leibnitz's doctrine 
of a pre-estabhshed harmony, which he certainly borrowed 
from Spinoza, who had himself taken the hint from Des 
Cartes's animal machines, was in its common interpretation 
too strange to survive the inventor — too repugnant to our 

10 common sense ; (which is not indeed entitled to a judicial 
voice in the courts of scientiiic philosophy, but whose 
whispers still exert a strong secret influence.) Even Wolf, 
the admirer and illustrious systematizer of the Leibnitzian 
doctrine, contents himself with defending the possibility 

15 of the idea, but does not adopt it as a part of the edifice. 

The hypothesis of Hylozoism on the other side, is the 
death of all rational physiology, and indeed of all physical 
science ; for that requires a hmitation of terms, and cannot 
consist with the arbitrary power of multiplying attributes by 

20 occult quahties. Besides, it answers no purpose ; unless, 
indeed, a difficulty can be solved by multiplying it, or that 
we can acquire a clearer notion of our soul, by being told that 
we have a million souls, and that every atom of our bodies 
has a soul of its own. Far more prudent is it to admit the 

25 difhculty once for all, and then let it he at rest. There is 
a sediment indeed at the bottom of the vessel, but all the 
water above it is clear and transparent. The Hylozoist only 
shakes it up, and renders the whole turbid. 

But it is not either the nature of man, or the duty of the 

30 philosopher to despair concerning any important problem 
until, as in the squaring of the circle, the impossibihty of 
a solution has been demonstrated. How the esse, assumed 
as originally distinct from the scire, can ever unite itself with 
it ; how being can transform itself into a knowing, becomes 

35 conceivable on one only condition ; namely, if it can be 

90 Biographia Literaria ch. vm 

shown that the vis representativa, or the Sentient, is itself a 
species of being ; i.e. either as a property or attribute, or 
as an hypostasis or self subsistence. The former is, indeed, 
the assumption of materiahsm ; a system which could 
not but be patronized by the philosopher, if only it actually 5 
performed what it promises. But how any affection from 
without can metamorphose itself into perception or will, the 
materiahst has hitherto left, not only as incomprehensible 
as he found it, but has aggravated it into a comprehensible 
absurdity. For, grant that an object from without could 10 
act upon the conscious self, as on a consubstantial object ; 
yet such an affection could only engender something homo- 
geneous with itself. Motion could only propagate motion. 
Matter has no Inward. We remove one surface, but to meet 
with another. We can but divide a particle into particles ; 15 
and each atom comprehends in itself the properties of the 
material universe. Let any reflecting mind make the ex- 
periment of explaining to itself the evidence of our sensuous 
intuitions, from the hypothesis that in any given perception 
there is a something which has been communicated to it by 20 
an impact, or an impression ab extra. In the first place, by 
the impact on the percepient, or ens representans, not the 
object itself, but only its action or effect, will pass into the 
same. Not the iron tongue, but its vibrations, pass into 
the metal of the bell. Now in our immediate perception, it 25 
is not the mere power or act of the object, but the object 
itself, which is immediately present. We might indeed 
attempt to explain this result by a chain of deductions and 
conclusions ; but that, first, the very faculty of deducing 
and concluding would equally demand an explanation ; 30 
and secondly, that there exists in f act no such intermediation 
by logical notions, such as those of cause and effect. It is 
the object itself, not the product of a syhogism, which is 
present to our consciousness. Or would we explain this 
supervention of the object to the sensation, by a productive 35 

cH. VIII Biographia Literaria 91 

faculty set in motion by an impulse ; still the transition, 
into the percepient, of the object itself, from which the 
impulse proceeded, assumes a power that can permeate and 
wholly possess the soul, 

5 " And hke a God by spiritual art, 

Be all in all, and all in every part." 


And how came the percipient here ? And what is become 
of the wonder-promising Matter, that was to perform all 
these marvels by force of mere figure, weight and motion ? 

10 The most consistent proceeding of the dogmatic materiahst 
is to fall back into the common rank of soul-and-bodyists ; to 
affect the mysterious, and declare the whole process a revela- 
tion given, and not to be understood, which it would be 
prophane to examine too closely. " Datur non intelhgitur." 

15 But a revelation unconfirmed by miracles, and a faith not 
commanded by the conscience, a philosopher may venture 
to pass by, without suspecting himself of any irrehgious 

Thus, as materiahsm has been generally taught, it is 

20 utterly unintelhgible, and owes all its proselytes to the 
propensity so common among men, to mistake distinct 
images for clear conceptions ; and vice versa, to reject as 
inconceivable whatever from its own nature is unimaginable. 
But as soon as it becomes intehigible, it ceases to be 

25 materiahsm. In order to explain thinking, as a material 
phaenomenon, it is necessary to refine matter into a mere 
modification of intelhgence, with the two-fold function of 
appearing and perceiving. Even so did Priestley in his con- 
troversy with Price ! He stript matter of all its material 

30 properties ; substituted spiritual powers ; and when we ex- 
pected to find a body, behold ! we had nothing but its ghost ! 
the apparition of a defunct substance ! 

I shall not dilate further on this subject ; because it will, 
(if God grant health and permission), be treated of at large 

92 Biographia Literaria ch. vm 

and systematically in a work, which I have many years 
been preparing, on the Productive Logos human and 
divine ; with, and as the introduction to, a full commentary 
on the Gospel of St. John. To make myself intelhgible as 
far as my present subject requires, it will be sufhcient briefly 5 
to observe. — i. That all association demands and presup- 
poses the existence of the thoughts and images to be asso- 
ciated. — 2. The hypothesis of an external world exactly 
correspondent to those images or modifications of our own 
being, which alone, (according to this system), we actually 10 
behold, is as thorough ideahsm as Berkeley's, inasmuch as it 
equally, (perhaps, in a more perfect degree,) removes all 
reahty and immediateness of perception, and places us in a 
dream world of phantoms and spectres, the inexphcable 
swarm and equivocal generation of motions in our own brains. 1 5 
— 3. That this hypothesis neither involves the explanation, 
nor precludes the necessity, of a mechanism and co-adequate 
f orces in the percepient, which at the more than magic touch 
of the impulse from without is to create anew for itself the 
correspondent object. The formation of a copy is not 20 
solved by the mere pre-existence of an original ; the copyist 
of Raphaers Transfiguration must repeat more or less 
perfectly the process of Raphael. It would be easy to 
explain a thought from the image on the retina, and that 
from the geometry of hght, if this very hght did not present 25 
the very same difficulty. We might as rationally chant the 
Brahmin creed of the tortoise that supported the bear, that 
supported the elephant, that supported the world, to the 
tune of " This is the house that Jack built." The sic Deo 
piacitum est we all admit as the sufficient cause, and the 30 
divine goodness as the sufficient reason ; but an answer to 
the whence ? and why ? is no answer to the how ? which alone 
is the physiologisfs concern. It is a mere sophisma pigrum, 
and (as Bacon hath said) the arrogance of pusillanimity, 
which hf ts up the idol of a mortaFs fancy and commands us 35 

CH. VIII Biographia Literaria 93 

to fall down and worship it, as a work of divine wisdom, an 
ancile or palladium fallen from heaven. By the very same 
argument the supporters of the Ptolemaic system might 
have rebuffed the Newtonian, and pointing to the sky with 
5 self-complacent * grin have appealed to common sense, 
whether the sun did not move and the earth stand still. 


Is philosophy possible as a science, and what are its conditions ? — 
Giordano Brimo — Literary aristocracy, or the existence of a tacit 
compact among the learned as a privileged order — The author's 
obligations to the Mystics ; — to Immanuel Kant — The di^fference 
between the letter and the spirit of Kanfs writings, and a vindica- 
tion of prudence in the teaching of philosophy — Fichte's attempt 
to complete the critical system — Its partial success and ultimate 
failure — Obligations to Schelling ; and among English writers 
to Saumarez. 

After I had successively studied in the schools of Locke, 
Berkeley, Leibnitz, and Hartley, and could find in neither of 
them an abiding place for my reason, I began to ask myself ; 

10 is a system of philosophy, as different from mere history and 
historic classification, possible ? If possible, what are its 
necessary conditions ? I was for a while disposed to answer 
the first question in the negative, and to admit that the sole 
practicable employment for the human mind was to observe, 

15 to collect, and to classify. But I soon felt, that human 
nature itself fought up against this wilful resignation of 
intellect ; and as soon did I find, that the scheme taken 
with all its consequences and cleared of all inconsistencies, 
was not less impracticable than contra-natural. Assume in 

20 its full extent the position, nihil in intellectu quod non prius 
in sensu, without Leibnitz's qualifying prcster ipsum intel- 
lectum, and in the same sense, in which the position was 
understood by Hartley and Condillac : and what Hume 
had demonstratively deduced from this concession con- 

* " And Coxcombs vanquish Berkeley with a grin. " Pope. 

94 Biographia Literaria ch. ix 

cerning cause and effect, will apply with equal and crush- 
ing force to all the * other eleven categorical forms, and the 
logical functions corresponding to them. How can we 
make bricks without straw ? or build without cement ? 
We learn all things indeed by occasion of experience ; but 5 
the very facts so learnt force us inward on the antecedents, 
that must be pre-supposed in order to render experience 
itself possible. The first book of Locke's Essays, (if the 
supposed error, which it labors to subvert, be not a mere 
thing of straw, an absurdity which no man ever did, or 10 
indeed ever could, beheve,) is formed on a a-6<j>L(rfjLa irepo- 
^7]TT](r€w<;, and involves the old mistake of Cum hoc : ergo, 
propter hoc. 

The term, Philosophy, defines itself as an affectionate 
seeking after the truth ; but Truth is the correlative of 15 
Being. This again is no way conceivable, but by assuming 
as a postulate, that both are ab initio, identical and co- 
inherent ; that intelhgence and being are reciprocally each 
other's substrate. I presumed that this was a possible con- 
ception, {i.e. that it involved no logical inconsonance,) from 20 
the length of time during which the scholastic definition of 
the Supreme Being, as " actus purissimus sine ulla potentiah- 
tate," was received in the schools of Theology, both by the 
Pontifician and the Reformed divines. The early study 
of Plato and Plotinus, with the commentaries and the 25 
Theologia Platonica of the illustrious Florentine ; of 
Proclus, and Gemistius Pletho ; and at a later period of the 
" De Immenso et Innumerabih," and the '^ De la causa, prin- 
cipio ed uno," of the philosopher of Nola,who could boast of 
a Sir Phihp Sidney and Fulke Greville among his patrons, 30 
and whom the idolaters of Rome burnt as an atheist in the 

* Videlicet ; quantity, quality, relation, and mode, each con- 
sisting of three subdivisions. Vide Kritik der reinen Vernunft, 
pp. 95 and 106. See too the judicious remarks on Locke and 

CH. IX Biograpliia Literaria 95 

year 1660 ; had all contributed to prepare my mind for the 
reception and welcoming of the " Cogito quia sum, et sum 
quia Cogito " ; a philosophy of seeming hardihood, but 
certainly the most ancient, and therefore presumptively 

5 the most natural. 

Why need I be afraid ? Say rather how dare I be ashamed 
of the Teutonic theosophist, Jacob Behmen ? Many indeed, 
and gross were his delusions ; and such as furnish frequent 
and ample occasion for the triumph of the learned over the 

10 poor ignorant shoemaker, who had dared think for himself. 
But while we remember that these delusions were such, as 
might be anticipated from his utter want of all intellectual 
disciphne, and from his ignorance of rational psychology, 
let it not be forgotten that the latter defect he had in common 

15 with the most learned theologians of his age. Neither with 
books, nor with book-learned men was he conversant. A 
meek and shy quietist, his intellectual powers were never 
stimulated into fev'rous energy by crowds of proselytes, or 
by the ambition of proselytizing. Jacob Behmen was an 

20 enthusiast, in the strictest sense, as not merely distinguished, 
but as contra-distinguished, from a fanatic. While I in part 
translate the following observations from a contemporary 
writer of the Continent, let me be permitted to premise, that 
I might have transcribed the substance from memoranda of 

35 my own, which were written many years before his pam- 
phlet was given to the world ; and that I prefer another's 
words to my own, partly as a tribute due to priority of pubh- 
cation ; but still more from the pleasure of sympathy in a 
case where coincidence only was possible. 

30 Whoever is acquainted with the history of philosophy, 
during the two or three last centuries, cannot but admit, that 
there appears to have existed a sort of secret and tacit com- 
pact among the learned, not to pass beyond a certain hmit in 
speculative science. The privilege of free thought, so highly 

35 extolled, has at no time been held vahd in actual practice, 

96 Biographia Literaria ch. ix 

except within this hmit ; and not a single stride beyond it 
has ever been ventured without bringing obloquy on the 
transgressor. The few men of genius among the learned 
class, who actually did overstep this boundary, anxiously 
avoided the appearance of having so done. Therefore the 5 
true depth of science, and the penetration to the inmost 
centre, from which all the hnes of knowledge diverge to 
their ever distant circumference, was abandoned to the ilh- 
terate and the simple, whom unstilled yearning, and an 
original ebulHency of spirit, had urged to the investigation of 10 
the indwelhng and hving ground of all things. These, then, 
because their names had never been inrolled in the guilds 
of the learned, were persecuted by the registered hvery-men 
as interlopers on their rights and priviledges. All without 
distinction were branded as fanatics and phantasts ; not 15 
only those, whose wild and exorbitant imaginations had 
actually engendered only extravagant and grotesque phan- 
tasms, and whose productions were, for the most part, poor 
copies and gross caricatures of genuine inspiration ; but 
the truly inspired hkewise, the originals themselves. And 20 
this for no other reason, but because they were the unlearned, 
men of humble and obscure occupations. When, and from 
whom among the hterati by profession, have we ever heard 
the divine doxology repeated, " I thank thee, O Father ! 
Lord of Heaven and Earth ! because thou hast hid these 25 
things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them 
unto babes." No ; the haughty priests of learning not only 
banished from the schools and marts of science all who had 
dared draw hving waters from the fountain, but drove them 
out of the very temple, which mean time " the huyers, and 30 
sellers, and money-changers " were suffered to make " a 
den of thieves." 

And yet it would not be easy to discover any substantial 
ground for this contemptuous pride in those hterati, who 
have most distinguished themselves by their scorn of Behmen, 35 

cH. IX Biographia Literaria 97 

DE Thoyras, George Fox, etc; unless it be, that they 
could write orthographically, make smooth periods, and 
had the fashions of authorship almost hterally at their fingers' 
ends, while the latter, in simphcity of soul, made their words 

5 immediate echoes of their feehngs. Hence the frequency of 
those phrases among them, which have been mistaken for 
pretences to immediate inspiration ; as for instance, " it was 
delivered unto me;" " / strove not to speak ; " " / said, I will 
be silent;^' " hut the word was in my heart as a bnrning fire; " 

10 " and I could not forbear." Hence too the unwilUngness to 
give offence ; hence the foresight, and the dread of the 
clamours, which would be raised against them, so frequently 
avowed in the writings of these men, and expressed, as was 
natural, in the words of the only book, with which they 

15 were famihar. " Woe is me that I am become a man of 
strife, and a man of contention, — I love peace : the souls 
of men are dear unto me : yet because I seek for Light every 
one of them dothcurse me ! " O ! it requires deeper feehng, 
and a stronger imagination, than belong to most of those, to 

20 whom reasoning and fluent expression have been as a trade 
learnt in boyhood, to conceive with what might, with what 
inward strivings and commotion, the perception of a new and 
vital TRUTH takes possession of an uneducated man of genius. 
His meditations are almost inevitably employed on the 

25 eternal, or the everlasting; for " the world is not his friend, 
nor the world's law." Need we then be surprised, that, 
under an excitement at once so strong and so unusual, the 
man's body should sympathize with the struggles of his 
mind ; or that he should at times be so f ar deluded, as to 

30 mistake the tumultuous sensations of his nerves, and the 
co-existing spectres of his fancy, as parts or symbols of the 
truths which were opening on him ? It has indeed been 
plausibly observed, that in order to derive any advantage, 
or to collect any intelhgible meaning, from the writings 

35 of these ignorant mystics, the reader must bring with 


98 Biographia Literaria ch. ix 

him a spirit and judgement superior to that of the writers 
themselves : 

"And what he brings, what needs he elsewhere seek?" 

Paradise Regained. 

— A sophism, which I fully agree with Warburton, is un- 
worthy of Milton ; how much more so of the awful person, 5 
in whose mouth he has placed it ? One assertion I will 
venture to make, as suggested by my own experience, that 
there exist foHos on the human understanding, and the 
nature of man, which would have a far juster claim to their 
high rank and celebrity, if in the whole huge volume there 10 
could be found as much fulness of heart and intellect, as 
burst forth in many a simple page of George Fox, Jacob 
Behmen, and even of Behmen's commentator, the pious 
and fervid William Law. 

The feehng of gratitude, which I cherish towards these 15 
men, has caused me to digress further than I had foreseen or 
proposed ; but to have passed them over in an historical 
sketch of my Hterary hfe and opinions, would have seemed 
to me Hke the denial of a debt, the concealment of a boon. 
For the writings of these mystics acted in no sHght degree 20 
to prevent my mind from being imprisoned within the out- 
Hne of any single dogmatic system. They contributed to 
keep ahve the heart in the head ; gave me an indistinct, yet 
stirring and working presentiment, that ah the products of 
the mere reflective faculty partook of Death, and were as 25 
the ratthng twigs and sprays in winter, into which a sap was 
yet to be propeUed from some root to which I had not pene- 
trated, if they were to afford my soul either food or shelter. 
If they were too often a moving cloud of smoke to me by 
day, yet they were always a piHar of fire throughout the 30 
night, during my wanderings through the wilderness of 
doubt, and enabled me to skirt, without crossing, the sandy 
deserts of utter unbeHef. That the system is capable of 
being converted into an irreHgious Pantheism, I weH know. 

CH. IX Bwgraphta Literaria 99 

The Ethics of Spinoza, may, or may not, be an instance. 
But at no time could I believe, that in itself and essentially 
it is incompatible with religion, natural or revealed : and 
now I am most thoroughly persuaded of the contrary. 
5 The writings of the illustrious sage of KOnigsberg, the 
founder of the Critical Philosophy, more than any other 
work, at once invigorated anddisciphnedmyunderstanding. 
The originahty, the depth, and the compression of the 
thoughts ; the novelty and subtlety, yet sohdity and im- 

10 portance of the distinctions ; the adamantine chain of the 
logic ; and I will venture to add (paradox as it will appear 
to those who have taken their notion of Immanuel Kant 
from Reviewers and Frenchmen) the clearness and evi- 
dence, of the " Critique of the Pure Reason ; " of 

15 the " Judgement ; " of the " Metaphysical Elements of 
Natural Philosophy ; " and of his " Religion within 
THE BOUNDS OF PuRE Reason," took possession of me as 
with a giant's hand. After fifteen years' familiarity with 
them, I still read these and all his other productions with 

20 undiminished dehght and increasing admiration. The few 
passages that remained obscure to me, after due efforts of 
thought, (as the chapter on original apperceptio7i,) and the 
apparent contradictions which occur, I soon found were 
hints and insinuations referring to ideas, which Kant 

25 either did not think it prudent to avow, or which he con- 
sidered as consistently left behind in a pure analysis, not 
of human nature in toto, but of the speculative intellect 
alone. Here therefore he was constrained to commence at 
the point of reflection, or natural consciousness : while in 

30 his moral system he was permitted to assume a higher 
ground (the autonomy of the will) as aPosTULATE deducible 
from the unconditional command, or (in the technical lan- 
guage of his school) the categorical imperative, of the con- 
science. He had been in imminent danger of persecution 

35 during the reign of the late king of Prussia, that strange 

H 2 

loo Biographta Literaria ch. ix 

compound of lawless debauchery and priest-ridden super- 
stition : and it is probable that he had httle inchnation, in 
his old age, to act over again the fortunes, and hair-breadth 
escapes of Wolf. The expulsion of the first among Kant's 
disciples, who attempted to complete his system, from the 5 
university of Jena, with the confiscation and prohibition of 
the obnoxious work by the joint efforts of the courts of 
Saxony and Hanover, supphed experimental proof, that the 
venerable old man's caution was not groundless. In spite 
therefore of his own declarations, I could never beheve, that 10 
it was possible for him to have meant no more by his 
Noumenon, or Thing in Itself, than his mere words express ; 
or that in his own conception he confined the whole plastic 
power to the forms of the intellect, leaving for the external 
cause, for the materiale of our sensations, a matter without 15 
form, which is doubtless inconceivable. I entertained doubts 
hkewise, whether in his own mind he even laid all the 
stress, which he appears to do, on the moral postulates. 

An IDEA, in the highest sense of that word, cannot be con- 
veyed but by a symhol ; and, except in geometry, all sym- 20 
bols of necessity involve an apparent contradiction. $wv7;o-£ 
(TvveroKnv \ and for those who could not pierce through this 
symbohc husk, his writings were not intended. Questions 
which cannot be fully answered without exposing the re- 
spondent to personal danger, are not entitled to a fair 25 
answer ; and yet to say this openly, would in many cases 
furnish the very advantage which the adversary is insidiously 
seeking after. Veracity does not consist in saying, but in 
the intention of communicating, truth ; and the philosopher 
who cannot utter the whole truth without conveying false- 30 
hood, and at the same time, perhaps, exciting the most 
mahgnant passions, is constrained to express himself either 
mythically or equivocahy. When Kant therefore was im- 
portuned to settle the disputes of his commentators himself, 
by declaring what he meant, how could he dechne the 35 

CH. IX Biographia Literaria loi 

honours of martyrdom with less offence, than by simply 
replying, " I meant what I said, and at the age of near four- 
score, I have something else, and more important to do, than 
to write a commentary on my own works." 

5 Fichte's Wissenschaftslehre, or Lore of Ultimate Science, 
was to add the key-stone of the arch : and by commencing 
with an act, instead of a thing or substance, Fichte assuredly 
gave the first mortal blow to Spinozism, as taught by 
Spinoza himself ; and suppHed the idea of a system truly 

o metaphysical, and of a metaphysique truly systematic : (i.e. 
having its spring and principle within itself). But this 
fundamental idea he overbuilt with a heavy mass of mere 
notions, and psychological acts of arbitrary reflection. Thus 
his theory degenerated into a crude * egoismus, a boastful 

* The foUowing burlesque on the Fichtean Egoismus may, 
perhaps, be amusing to the few who have studied the system, 
and to those who are unacquainted with it, may convey as 
tolerable a likeness of Fichte's idealism as can be expected 
from an avowed caricature. 

The categorical imperative, or the annunciation of the new 
Teutonic God, 'ErfiENKAinAN : a dithyrambic Ode, by Quer- 
KOPF VoN Klubstick, Grammatian, and Subrector in Gym- 
nasio * * * 

" Eu ! Dei vices gerens, ipse Divus, 
{Speak English, Friend !) the God Imperativus, 
Here on this market-cross aloud I cry : 
I, I, I ! I itself I ! 

The form and the substance, the what and the why, 
The when and the where, and the low and the high, 
The inside andoutside, the earth and the sky, 
I, you, and he," and he, you and I, 
AU souls and all bodies are I itself I ! 

AU I itself I ! 

(Fools ! a truce with this starting !) 

All my I ! all my I ! 
He's a heretic dog who but adds Betty Martin ! 
Thus cried the God with high imperial tone : 
In robe of stifiest state, that scofl'd at beauty, 
A pronoun-verb imperative he shone — 
Then substantive and plural-singular grown 
He thus spake on ! Behold in I alone 
(For ethics boast a syntax of their own) 

I02 Biographia Literaria ch. ix 

and hyperstoic hostility to Nature, as Hfeless, godless, and 
altogether unholy : while his religion consisted in the as- 
sumption of a mere ordo ordinans, which we were per- 
mitted exoterice to call God ; and his ethics in an ascetic, and 
almost monkish, mortification of the natural passions and 5 

In Schelhng^s "Natur-Philosophie," and the "System 
DES transcendentalen Idealismus," I first found a genial 
coincidence with much that I had toiled out for myself, and 
a powerful assistance in what I had yet to do. 10 

I have introduced this statement, as appropriate to the 
narrative nature of this sketch ; yet rather in reference to 
the work which I have announced in a preceding page, than 
to my present subject. It would be but a mere act of justice 
to myself, were I to warn my future readers, that an identity 15 
of thought, or even similarity of phrase, will not be at all 
times a certain proof that the passage has been borrowed 
from Schelhng, or that the conceptions were originally learnt 
from him. In this instance, as in the dramatic lectures of 
Schlegel to which I have before alluded, from the same 20 
motive of self-defence against the charge of plagiarism, 
many of the most striking resemblances, indeed all the main 
and fundamental ideas, were born and matured in my 
mind before I had ever seen a single page of the German 
Philosopher ; and I might indeed affirm with truth, before 25 
the more important works of Schelhng had been written, or 

Or if in ye, yet as I doth depute ye, 

In O ! I, you, the vocative of duty ! 

I of the world's whole Lexicon the root ! 

Of the whole universe of touch, sound, sight 

The genitive and ablative to boot : 

The accusative of wrong, the nom'native of right, 

And in all cases the case absolute ! 

Self-construed, I all other moods decUne : 

Imperative, from nothing we derive us ; 

Yet as a super-postulate of mine, 

Unconstrued antecedence I assign 

To X, Y, Z, the God infinitivus ! " 

CH. IX Biographia Literaria 103 

at least made public. Nor it this coincidence at all to be 
wondered at. We had studied in the same school ; been 
disciphned by the same preparatory philosophy, namely, 
the writings of Kant ; we had both equal obhgations to the 
5 polar logic and dynamic philosophy of Giordano Bruno ; 
and Schehing has lately, and, as of recent acquisition, 
avowed that same affectionate reverence for the labours of 
Behmen, and other mystics, which I had formed at a much 
earher period. The coincidence of Schelling's system with 

10 certain general ideas of Behmen, he declares to have been 
meve coincidence ; while my obhgations have been more 
direct. He needs give to Behmen only feehngs of sympathy ; 
while I owe him a debt of gratitude. God forbid ! that I 
should be suspected of a wish to enter into a rivalry with 

15 Schelhng for the honours so unequivocally his right, not only 
as a great and original genius, but as the foimder of the 
Philosophy of Nature, and as the most successful improver 
of the Dynamic * System which, begun by Bruno, was re-in- 

* It would be an act of high and almost criminal injustice 
to pass over in silence the name of Mr. Richard Saumarez, 
a gentleman equally well known as a medical man and as a 
philanthropist, but who demands notice on the present occasion 
as the author of " A new System of Physiology " in two volumes 
octavo, published 1797 ; and in 1812 of " An Examination of 
the natural and artificial Systems of Philosophy which now 
prevail " in one volume octavo, entitled, " The Principles of 
physiological and physical Science." The latter work is not 
quite equal to the former in style or arrangement ; and there 
is a greater necessity of distinguishing the principles of the 
author's philosophy from his conjectures concerning colour, the 
atmospheric matter, comets, &c. which, whether just or er- 
roneous, are by no means necessary consequences of that 
philosophy. Yet even in this department of this volume, which 
I regard as comparatively the inferior work, the reasonings by 
which Mr. Saumarez invahdates the immanence of an infinite 
power in any finite substance are the offspring of no common 
mind ; and the experiment on the expansibihty of the air is 
least plausible and highly ingenious. But the merit, which 
will secure both to the book and to the writer a high and honor- 
able name with posterity, consists in the masterly f orce of reason- 
ing, and the copiousness of induction, with which he has assailed. 

I04 Biographia Literaria ch. ix 

troduced (in a more philosophical form, and freed from all 
its impurities and visionary accompaniments) by Kant ; 
in whom it was the native and necessary growth of his own 
system. Kant's followers, however, on whom (for the 
greater part) their master's doak had fallen without, or with 5 
a very scanty portion of , his spirit, had adopted his dynamic 
ideas, only as a more refined species of mechanics. With the 
exception of one or two fundamental ideas, which cannot 
be with-held from Fichte, to Schelling we owe the com- 
pletion, and the most important victories, of this revolution 10 
in philosophy. To me it will be happiness and honor 
enough, should I succeed in rendering the system itself intel- 
hgible to my countrymen, and in the appHcation of it to the 
most awful of subjects for the most important of purposes. 
Whether a work is the offspring of a man's own spirit, and 15 
the product of original thinking, will be discovered by those 
who are its sole legitimate judges, by better tests than the 
mere reference to dates. For readers in general, let what- 
ever shall be found in this or any future work of mine, that 

and (in my opinion) subverted the tyranny of the mechanic 
system in physiology ; established not only the existence of 
final causes, but their necessity and ef&ciency in every system 
that merits the name of philosophical ; and, substituting life 
and progressive power for the contradictory inert force, has a 
right to be known and remembered as the first instaurator of 
the dynamic philosophy in England. The author's views, as 
far as concerns himself, are unborrowed and compleatly his 
own, as he neither possessed nor do his writings discover, the 
least acquaintance with the works of Kant, in which the germs 
of the philosophy exist ; and his volumes were pubUshed many 
years before the fuU developement of these germs by ScheUing. 
Mr. Saumarez's detection of the Braunonian system was no 
light or ordinary service at the time ; and I scarcely remember 
in any work on any subject a confutation so thoroughly satis- 
factory. It is sufficient at this time to have stated the fact ; 
as in the preface to the work, which I have already announced 
on the Logos, I have exhibited in detail the merits of this writer, 
and genuine philosopher, who needed only have taken his 
foundation somewhat deeper and wider to have superseded 
a considerable part of my labours. 

CH. IX Biographia Literaria 105 

resembles, or coincides with, the doctrines of my German 
predecessor, though contemporary, be wholly attributed to 
him : provided, that the absence of distinct references to his 
books, which I could not at all times make with truth as 

5 designating citations or thoughts actually derived from him ; 
and which, I tnist, would, after this general acknowledge- 
ment be superfluous ; be not charged on me as an ungenerous 
concealment or intentional plagiarism. I have not indeed 
(eheu ! res angusta domi ! ) been hitherto able to procure 

10 more than two of his books, viz. the ist volume of his col- 
lected Tracts, and his System of Transcendental Ideahsm ; 
to which, however, I must add a small pamphlet against 
Fichte, the spirit of which was to my feehngs painfully in- 
congruous with the principles, and which (with the usual 

15 allowance afforded to an antithesis) displayed the love of 
wisdom rather than the wisdom of love. I regard truth as 
a divine ventriloquist : I care not from whose mouth the 
sounds are supposed to proceed, if only the words are audible 
and intelhgible. " Aibeit, I must confess to be half in doubt, 

20 whether I should bring it forth or no, it being so contrary to 
the eye of the world, and the world so potent in most men's 
hearts, that I shall endanger either not to be regarded or 
not to be understood." 

MiLTON : Rcason of Church Government. 

25 And to conclude the subject of citation, with a cluster of 
citations, which, as taken from books not in common use, 
may contribute to the reader's amusement, as a voluntary 
before a sermon. " Dolet mihi quidem dehciis hterarum 
inescatos subito jam homines adeo esse, prssertim qui 

30 Christianos se profitentur, ut legere nisi quod ad delectationem 
facit sustineant nihil : unde et disciphnae severiores et 
philosophia ipsa jam fere prorsus etiam a doctis neghguntur. 
Quod quidem propositum studiorum, nisi mature corrigitur, 
tam magnum rebus incommodum dabit, quam dedit Bar- 

35 baries oUm. Pertinax res Barbaries est, fateor : sed minus 

io6 Biographia Literaria ch. ix 

potest tamen, quam illa mollities et persuasa frudentia 
literamm, quae si ratione caret, sapientiae virtutisque specie 
mortales misere circumducit. Succedet igitur, ut arbitror, 
haud ita multo post, pro rusticana seculi nostri ruditate 
captatrix illa communi-loquentia robur animi virilis omne, 5 
omnem virtutem masculam, profligatura, nisi cavetur." 

" SiMON Gryn^us, candido lectori," prefixed to the Latin 
translation of Plato, by Marsihus Ficinus. Lugduni, 1557. 
A too prophetic remark, which has been in fulfilment 
from the year 1680, to the present 1815. N.B. By " persuasa 10 
prudentia," Grynaeus means self-complacent common sense 
as opposed to science and philosophic reason. 

" Est medius ordo, et velut equestris, Ingeniorum quidem 
sagacium, et rebus humanis commodorum, non tamen in 
primam magnitudinem patentium. Eorum hominum, ut ita 1 5 
dicam, major annona est. Sedulum esse, nihil temere loqui, 
assuescere labori, et imagine prudentise & modestise tegere 
angustiores partes captus, dum exercitationem et usum, 
quo isti in civihbus rebus pollent, pro natura et magni- 
tudine ingenii plerique accipiunt." — Barclaii Argenis 20 
p. 71. 

" As therefore physicians are many times forced to leave 
such methods of curing as themselves know to be fittest, and 
being overruled by the sick man's impatience, are fain to 
try the best they can : in Hke sort, considering how the case 25 
doth stand with this present age, fuU of tongue and weak of 
brain, behold we would {if our subject permitted it) yield to 
the stream thereof. That way we would be contented to 
prove our thesis, which being the worse in itself, notwith- 
standing is now by reason of common imbecihty the fitter 30 
and hkeher to be brooked." — Hooker. 

If this fear could be rationally entertained in the contro- 
versial age of Hooker, under the then robust disciphne of 
the scholastic logic, pardonably may a writer of the present 
times anticipate a scanty audience for abstrusest themes, 35 

CH. IX Biographia Literaria 107 

and truths that can neither be communicated or received 
without effort of thought, as well as patience of attention. 

" Che s'io non erro al calcular de' punti, 
Par ch' Asinina Stella a noi predomini, 
E '1 Somaro e '1 Castron si sian congiunti. 
II tempo d'Apuleio piu non si nomini : 
Che se allora un sol huom sembrava un Asino, 
Mille Asini a' miei di rassembran huomini ! " 

Di Salvatore Rosa Satir. I. 1. 10. 


A chapter of digression and anecdotes, as an interlude preceding 
that on the nature and genesis of the imagination or plastic 
power — On pedantry and pedantic expressions — A dvice to young 
authors respecting publication — Various anecdotes of the author's 
literary life, and the progress of his opinions in religion and 

" Esemplastic. The word is not in Johnson, nor have I 

10 met with it elsewhere." Neither have I. I constructed it 
myself from the Greek words, cts ev TrXaTTciK, to shape into 
one ; because, having to convey a new sense, I thought that 
a new term would both aid the recollection of my meaning, 
and prevent its being confounded with the usual import of 

15 the word, imagination. " But this is pedantry ! " Not 
necessarily so, I hope. If I am not misinformed, pedantry 
consists in the use of words unsuitable to the time, place, 
and company. The language of the market would be in the 
schools as pedantic,^\}^o\x^ it might not be reprobated by 

20 that name, as the language of the schools in the market. 
The mere man of the world, who insists that no other terms 
but such as occur in common conversation should be em- 
ployed in a scientific disquisition, and with no greater 
precision, is as truly a pedant as the man of letters, who 

25 either over-rating the acquirements of his auditors, or misled 
by his own f amiliarity with technical or scholastic terms, con- 
verses at the wine-table with his mind fixed on his musaeum 

io8 Biographia Literaria ch. x 

or laboratory ; even though the latter pedant instead of de- 
siring his wife to make the tea should bid her add to the quant. 
suff. of thea Sinensis the oxyd of hydrogen saturated with 
caloric. To use the colloquial (and in truth somewhat 
vtdgar) metaphor, if the pedant of the cloyster, and the 5 
pedant of the lobby, both smell equally of the shop, yet the 
odour from the Russian binding of good old authentic- 
looking fohos and quartos is less annoying than the steams 
from the tavern or bagnio. Nay, though the pedantry of 
the scholar should betray a Httle ostentation, yet a well- 10 
conditioned mind would more easily, methinks, tolerate 
the fox brush of learned vanity, than the sans culotterie of a 
contemptuous ignorance, that assumes a merit from mutila- 
tion in the self-consohng sneer at the pompous incumbrance 
of tails. 15 

The first lesson of philosophic disciphne is to wean the 
student's attention from the degrees of things, which alone 
form the vocabulary of common hfe, and to direct it to the 
KIND abstracted from degree. Thus the chemical student is 
taught not to be startled at disquisitions on the heat in ice, 20 
or on latent and fixible light. In such discourse the in- 
structor has no other alternative than either to use old words 
with new meanings (the plan adopted by Darwin in his 
Zoonomia ;) or to introduce new terms, after the example 
of Linnaeus, and the framers of the present chemical nomen- 25 
clature. The latter mode is evidently preferable, were it 
only that the former demands a twofold exertion of thought 
in one and the same act. For the reader, or hearer, is 
required not only to learn and bear in mind the new defini- 
tion ; but to unlearn, and keep out of his view, the old and 30 
habitual meaning ; a far more difficult and perplexing task, 
and for which the mere semhlance of eschewing pedantry 
seems to me an inadequate compensation. Where, indeed, 
it is in our power to recall an unappropriate term that had 
without suf&cient reason become obsolete, it is doubtless 35 

CH. X Biographia Literaria 109 

a less evil to restore than to coin anew. Thus to express in 
one word, all that appertains to the perception, considered 
as passive, and merely recipient, I have adopted from our 
elder classics the word sensuous ; because sensual is not at 

5 present used, except in a bad sense, or at least as a moral 
distinction ; while sensitive and sensiUe would each convey 
a different meaning. Thus too I have followed Hooker, 
Sanderson, Milton, &c., in designating the immediateness of 
any act or object of knowledge by the word intuition, used 

10 sometimes subjectively, sometimes objectively, even as 
we use the word, thought, now as the thought, or act of 
thinking, and now as a thought, or the object of our reflec- 
tion ; and we do this without confusion or obscurity. The 
very words, ohjective and suhjedive, of such constant recur- 

1 5 rence in the schools of yore, I have ventured to re-introduce, 
because I could not so briefly or conveniently by any more 
famihar terms distinguish the percipere from the percipi. 
Lastly, I have cautiously discriminated the terms, the 
REASON, and the understanding, encouraged and con- 

20 firmed by the authority of our genuine divines and philoso- 
phers, before the revolution. 

" both hfe, and sense, 

Fancy, and understandin^ ; whence the soul 
Reason receives, and reason is her heing, 
25 Discursive or intuitive : discourse * 

Is oftest your's, the latter most is our's, 
Differing but in degree, in kind the same. 

Paradise Lost, Book V. 

I say, that I was confirmed by authority so venerable : for 

* But for sundry notes^on Shakespeare, &c., and other pieces 
which have fallen in my way, I should have deemed it un- 
necessary to observe, that discourse here, or elsewhere, does not 
mean what we now call discoursing ; but the discursion of the 
mind, the processes of generaUzation and subsumption, of de- 
duction and conclusion. Thus, Philosophy has hitherto been 
DiscuRsivE ; while Geometry is always and essentially m- 


iio Biographia Literaria ch. x 

I had previous and higher motives in my own conviction 
of the importance, nay, of the necessity of the distinction, 
as both an indispensable condition and a vital part of all 
sound speculation in metaphysics, ethical or theological. 
To estabhsh this distinction was one main object of The 5 
Friend ; if even in a biography of my own hterary hfe I can 
with propriety refer to a work, which was printed rather 
than pubhshed, or so pubhshed that it had been well for the 
unfortunate author, if it had remained in manuscript ! I 
have even at this time bitter cause for remembering that, 10 
which a number of my subscribers have but a trifling motive 
for forgetting. This effusion might have been spared ; but 
I would feign flatter myself, that the reader will be less 
austere than an oriental professor of the bastinado, who 
during an attempt to extort per argumentum bacuhnum 15 
a full confession from a culprit, interrupted his outcry of 
pain by reminding him, that it was " a'mere digression /" 
All this noise, Sir ! is nothing to the point, and no sort of 
answer to my Questions \ Ah I hnt, (rephed the sufferer,) 
it is the most pertinent reply in nature to your hlows. 20 

An imprudent man of common goodness of heart cannot 
but wish to turn even his imprudences to the benefit of 
others, as far as this is possible. If therefore any one of 
the readers of this semi-narrative should be preparing or 
intending a periodical work, I warn him, in the first place, 25 
against trusting in the number of names on his subscription 
list. For he cannot be certain that the names were put 
down by sufficient authority ; or, should that be ascertained, 
it still remains to be known, whether they were not extorted 
by some over zealous friend's importunity ; whether the 30 
subscriber had not yielded his name, merely from want of 
courage to answer, no ! and with the intention of dropping 
the work as soon as possible. One gentleman procured me 
nearly a hundred names for The Friend, and not only took 
frequent opportunity to remind me of his success in his 35 

CH. X Biographia Literaria iii 

canvas, but laboured to impress my mind with the sense of 
the obhgation, I was under to the subscribers ; for (as he 
very pertinently admonished me,) " fifty-two shillings di year 
was a large sum to be bestowed on one individual, where 
6 there were so many objects of charity with strong claims to 
the assistance of the benevolent." Of these hundred patrons 
ninety threw up the pubhcation before the fourth number, 
without any notice ; though it was well known to them, that 
in consequence of the distance, and the slowness and irregu- 

lo larity of the conveyance, I was compeUed to lay in a stock 
of stamped paper for at least eight weeks beforehand ; each 
sheet of which stood me in five pence previous to its arrival 
at my printer's ; though the subscription money was not to 
be received till the twenty-first week after the commence- 

15 ment of the work ; and lastly, though it was in nine cases 
out of ten impracticable for me to receive the money for 
two or three numbers without paying an equal sum for the 

In confirmation of my first caveat, I will select one fact 

20 among many. On my hst of subscribers, among a consider- 
able number of names equally fiattering, was that of an Earl 
of Cork, with his address. He might as well have been an 
Earl of Bottle, for aught I knew of him, who had been 
content to reverence the peerage in abstracto, rather than in 

25 concretis. Of course The Friend was regularly sent as far, 
if I remember right, as the eighteenth number : i. e. till 
a fortnight before the subscription was to be paid. And lo ! 
just at this time I received a letter from his Lordship, re- 
proving me in language far more lordly than courteous for 

30 my impudence in directing my pamphlets to him, who knew 
nothing of me or my work ! Seventeen or eighteen numbers 
of which, however, his Lordship was pleased to retain, 
probably for the cuhnary or post-cuhnary conveniences of 
his servants. 

35 Secondly, I warn all others from the attempt to deviate 

112 Biographia Literaria ch. x 

from the ordinary mode of publishing a work by the trade. 
I thought indeed, that to the purchaser it was indifferent, 
whether thirty per cent. of the purchase-money went to the 
booksellers or to the government ; and that the convenience 
of receiving the work by the post at his own door would give 5 
the preference to the latter. It is hard, I own, to have been 
labouring f or years, in collecting and arranging the materials ; 
to have spent every shilhng that could be spared after the 
necessaries of hfe had been furnished, in buying books, or in 
journies for the purpose of consulting them or of acquiring lo 
facts at the fountain head ; then to buy the paper, pay for 
the printing, &c., all at least fifteen per cent. beyond what 
the trade would have paid ; and then after all to give thirty 
per cent. not of the net profits, but of the gross results of the 
sale, to a man who has merely to give the books shelf or rg 
warehouse room, and permit his apprentice to hand them 
over the counter to those who may ask for them ; and this 
too copy by copy, although if the work be on any philo- 
sophical or scientific subject, it may be years before the 
edition is sold off. All this, I confess, must seem an hard- 20 
ship, and one, to which the products of industry in no other 
mode of exertion are subject. Yet even this is better, far 
better, than to attempt in any way to unite the functions of 
author and pubhsher. But the most prudent mode is to sell 
the copy-right, at least of one or more editions, for the most 25 
that the trade will off er. By f ew only can a large remunera- 
tion be expected ; but fifty pounds and ease of mind are of 
more real advantage to a hterary man, than the chance of 
five hundred with the certainty of insult and degrading 
anxieties. I shall have been grievously misunderstood, if 30 
this statement should be interpreted as written with the 
desire of detracting from the character of booksellers or 
pubhshers. The individuals did not make the laws and 
customs of their trade, but, as in every other trade, take 
them as they find them. Till the evil can be proved to 35 

CH. X Biographia Literaria 113 

be removable, and without the substitution of an equal or 
greater inconvenience, it were neither wise or manly even 
to complain of it. But to use it as a pretext for speaking, or 
even for thinking, or feehng, unkindly or opprobriously of 
5 the tradesmen, as individuals, would be something worse 
than unwise or even than unmanly ; it would be immoral 
and calumnious. My motives point in a far different direc- 
tion and to far other objects, as will be seen in the conclusion 
of the chapter. 

10 A learned and exemplary old clergyman, who many years 
ago went to his reward followed by the regrets and blessings 
of his fiock, pubhshed at his own expense two volumes 
octavo, entitled, a new Theory of Redemption. The work 
was most severely handled in the Monthly or Critical Review, 

15 I forget which; and this unprovoked hostihty became the 
good old man's favorite topic of conversation among his 
friends. Well ! (he used to exclaim,) in the second edition, 
I shall have an opportunity of exposing both the ignorance 
and the malignity of the anonymous critic. Two or three 

20 years however passed by without any tidings from the 
bookseller, who had undertaken the printing and pubhca- 
tion of the work, and who was perfectly at his ease, as the 
author was known to be a man of large property. At length 
the accounts were written for ; and in the course of a few 

25 weeks they were presented by the rider for the house, in 
person. My old friend put on his spectacles, and holding 
the scroll with no Very firm hand, began — Paper, so niuch : 
O moderate enough — not at all beyond my expectation ! 
Printing, so much : well ! moderate enough ! Stitching, 

30 covers, advertisements, carriage, &c., so much. — Still nothing 
amiss. Selleridge (for orthography is no necessary part 
of a bookseller's literary acquirements) £3. 35. Bless me ! 
only three guineas for the what d'ye call it — the seller- 
idge ? No more, Sir ! replied the rider. Nay, but that is 

35 too moderate ! rejoined my old friend. Only three guineas 


114 Biographia Literaria ch. x 

for selling a thousand copies of a work in two volumes ? 
O Sir ! (cries the young traveller) you have mistaken the 
word. There have been none of them sold ; they have 
been sent back from London long ago ; and this ;^3. 3s. is 
for the cellaridge, or warehouse-room in our book cellar. 5 
The work was in consequence preferred from the ominous 
cellar of the pubhsher's to the author's garret ; and, on pre- 
senting a copy to an acquaintance, the old gentleman used 
to tell the anecdote with great humour and still greater good 
nature. 10 

With equal lack of worldly knowledge, I was a far more 
than equal sufferer for it, at the very outset of my author- 
ship. Toward the close of the first year from the time, that 
in an inauspicious hour I left the friendly cloysters, and the 
happy grove of quiet, ever honored Jesus College, Cam- 15 
bridge, I was persuaded by sundry Philanthropists and 
Anti-polemists to set on foot a periodical work, entitled 
The Watchman, that, (according to the general motto of 
the work,) all might know the truth, and that the truth might 
make us jree ! In order to exempt it from the stamp-tax, 20 
and hkewise to contribute as httle as possible to the sup- 
posed guilt of a war against freedom, it was to be pubhshed 
on every eighth day, thirty-two pages, large octavo, closely 
printed, and price only four-pence. Accordingly with a 
flaming prospectus, "Knowledge is Power " &c., to crythestate 25 
0/ the political atmosphere, and so forth, I set off on a tour to 
the North, from Bristol to Shefheld, f or the purpose of pro- 
curing customers, preaching by the way in most of the great 
towns, as an hireless volunteer, in a blue coat and white 
waistcoat, that not a rag of the woman of Babylon might be 30 
seen on me. For I was at that time and long after, though 
a Trinitarian (i.e. ad normam Platonis) in philosophy, yet 
a zealous Unitarian in Rehgion ; more accurately, I was a 
psilanthropist, one of those who beheve our Lord to have 
been the real son of Joseph, and who lay the main stress on 35 

CH. X Biographia Literaria 115 

the resurrection rather than on the cnicifixion. O ! never 
can I remember those days with either shame or regret. 
For I was most sincere, most disinterested ! My opinions 
were indeed in many and most important points erroneous ; 

5 but my heart was single. Wealth, rank, Hfe itself then 
seemed cheap to me, compared with the interests of (what 
I beheved to be) the tnith, and the will of my maker. I can- 
not even accuse myself of having been actuated by vanity ; 
for in the expansion of my enthusiasm I did not think of 

10 myself at all. 

My campaign commenced at Birmingham ; and my first 
attack was on a rigid Calvinist, a tallow-chandler by trade. 
He was a tall dingy man, in whom length was so pre- 
dominant over breadth, that he might almost have been 

15 borrowed for a foundery poker. O that face ! a face k^t 
efji<pa(nv ! I have it before me at this moment. The lank, 
black, twine-like hair, pingui-nitescent, cut in a straight hne 
along the black stubble of his thin gunpowder eye-brows, 
that looked like a scorched after-math from a last week's 

20 shaving. His coat collar behind in perfect unison, both 
of colour and lustre, with the coarse yet gUb cordage, that 
I suppose he called his hair, and which with a bend inward 
at the nape of the neck, (the only approach to flexure in his 
whole figure,) slunk in behind his waistcoat ; while the 

25 countenance lank, dark, very hard, and with strong per- 
pendicular furrows, gave me a dim notion of some one 
looking at me thro"ugh a used gridiron, all soot, grease, and 
iron ! But he was one of the thorough-bred, a true lover of 
liberty, and, (I was informed,) had proved to the satisfaction 

30 of many, that Mr. Pitt was one of the homs of the second 
beast in the Revelations, that spoke like a dragon. A person, 
to whom one of my letters of recommendation had been 
addressed, was my introducer. It was a new event in my hfe, 
my first stroke in the new business I had undertaken of an 

35 author, yea, and of an author trading on his own account. 

I 2 

ii6 Btographia Literaria ch. x 

My companion after some imperfect sentences and a mul- 
titude of hums and haas abandoned the cause to his client ; 
and I commenced an harangue of half an hour to Phileleu- 
theros, the tallow-chandler, varying my notes, through the 
whole gamut of eloquence, from the ratiocinative to the de- 5 
clamatory, and in the latter from the pathetic to the indig- 
nant. I argued, I described, I promised, I prophesied ; and 
beginning with the captivity of nations I ended with the near 
approach of the millennium, finishing the whole with some 
of my own verses describing that glorious state out of 10 
ihe Religious Musings : 

Such dehghts 

As float to earth, permitted visitants ! 
When in some hour of solemn jubilee 
The massive gates of Paradise are thrown 15 

Wide open : and forth come in fragments wild 
Sweet echoes of unearthly melodies, 
And odors snatch'd from beds of Amaranth, 
And they, that from the chrystal river of hfe 
Spring up on freshen'd wing, ambrosial gales ! " 20 

Religious Musings^ 1. 356. 

My taper man of Hghts hstened with perseverant and 
praise-worthy patience, though, (as I was af terwards told, on 
complaining of certain gales there were not altogether am- 
brosial,) it was a melting day with him. And what, Sir, 
(he said, after a short pause,) might the cost be ? Only 25 
FOUR-PENCE, (0 ! how I felt the anti-chmax, the abysmal 
bathos of that four-pence !) only four-pence, Sir, each 
number, to be published on every eighth day. That comes to 
a deal of money at the end of a year. And how much, did 
you say, there was to be for the money ? Thirty-two pages, 30 
Sir ! large octavo, closely printed. Thirty and two pages ? 
Bless me ! why except what I does in a family way on the 
Sabbath, thafs more than I ever reads, Sir ! all the year 
round. I am as great a one, as any man in Brummagem, 
Sir! for hberty and truth and all them sort of things, 35 

CH. X Biographia Literaria 117 

but as to this, (no offence, I hope, Sir !) I must beg to be 

So ended my first canvass : from causes that I shall 
presently mention, I made but one other appHcation in per- 
5 son. This took place at Manchester to a stately and opulent 
wholesale dealer in cottons. He took my letter of introduc- 
tion, and, having perused it, measured me from head to foot 
and again from foot to head, and then asked if I had any 
bill or invoice of the thing ; I presented my prospectus to 

10 him ; he rapidly skimmed and hummed over the first side, 
and still more rapidly the second and concluding page ; 
crushed it within his fingers and the palm of his hand ; then 
most dehberately and significantly rubbed and smoothed 
one part against the other ; and lastly putting it into his 

15 pocket turned his back on me with an " over-run with these 

articles ! " and so without another syllable retired into his 

counting-house. And, I can truly say, to my unspeakable 


This, I have said, was my second and last attempt. On 

20 returning baffled from the first, in which I had vainly 
essayed to repeat the miracle of Orpheus with the Brum- 
magem patriot, I dined with the tradesman who had intro- 
duced me to him. After dinner he importuned me to smoke 
a pipe with him, and two or three other illuminati of the 

35 same rank. I objected, both because I was engaged to spend 
the evening with a minister and his friends, and because 
I had never smOked except once or twice in my hfe- 
time, and then it was herb tobacco mixed with Oronooko. 
On the assurance, however, that the tobacco was equally 

30 mild, and seeing too that it was of a yellow colour ; (not 
forgetting the lamentable difficulty, I have always experi- 
enced, in saying, " No," and in abstaining from what the 
people about me were doing,) I took half a pipe, filhng the 
lower half of the bole with salt. I was soon however com- 

35 peUed to resign it, in consequence of a giddiness and dis- 

ii8 Biographia Literaria ch. x 

tressful feeling in my eyes, which, as I had drunk but a single 
glass of ale, must, I knew, have been the effect of the to- 
bacco. Soon af ter, deeming myself recovered, I sallied f orth 
to my engagement ; but the walk and the fresh air brought 
on all the symptoms again, and, I had scarcely entered the 5 
minister's drawing-room, and opened a small pacquet of 
letters, which he had received from Bristol for me ; ere 
I sunk back on the sofa in a sort of swoon rather than sleep. 
Fortunately I had found just time enough to inform him of 
the confused state of my feehngs, and of the occasion. For 10 
here and thus I lay, my face hke a wall that is white-washing, 
deathy pale and with the cold drops of perspiration running 
down it from my forehead, while one after another there 
dropt in the different gentlemen, who had been invited to 
meet, and spend the evening with me, to the number of 15 
from fifteen to twenty. As the poison of tobacco acts but 
for a short time, I at length awoke from insensibihty, and 
looked round on the party, my eyes dazzled by the candles 
which had been Hghted in the interim. By way of reheving 
my embarrassment one of the gentlemen began the conver- 20 
sation, with " Have you seen a pa^er to-day, Mr. Coleridge? " 
" Sir ! " (I rephed, rubbing my eyes,) " I am far from con- 
vinced, that a christian is permitted to read either news- 
papers or any other works of merely pohtical and temporary 
interest." This remark so ludicrously inapposite to, or 25 
rather, incongruous with, the purpose, for which I was 
known to have visited Birmingham, and to assist me in 
which they were all then met, produced an involuntary and 
general burst of laughter ; and seldom indeed have I passed 
so many dehghtful hours, as I enjoyed in that room from the 30 
moment of that laugh to an early hour the next morning. 
Never, perhaps, in so mixed and numerous a party have 
I since heard conversation sustained with such animation, 
enriched with such variety of information, and enhvened 
with such a fiow of anecdote. Both then and afterwards 35 

CH. X Biographia Literaria 119 

they all joined in dissuading me from proceeding with my 
scheme ; assured me in the most friendly and yet most 
flattering expressions, that the employment was neither fit 
for me, nor I fit for the employment. Yet, if I had deter- 

5 mined on persevering in it, they promised to exert them- 
selves to the utmost to procure subscribers, and insisted that 
I should make no more appHcations in person, but carry on 
the canvas by proxy. The same hospitable reception, the 
same dissuasion, and, (that failing), the same kind exertions 

10 in my behalf, I met with at Manchester, Derby, Notting- 
ham, Shefifield, indeed, at every place in which I took up my 
sojourn. I often recall with affectionate pleasure the many 
respectable men who interested themselves for me, a perfect 
stranger to them, not a few of whom I can still name among 

15 my friends. They will bear witness for me how opposite 
even then my principles were to those of Jacobinism or even 
of democracy, and can attest the strict accuracy of the state- 
ment which I have left on record in the loth and iith 
numbers of The Friend. 

20 From this rememberable tour I returned with nearly a 
thousand names on the subscription list of the Watchman ; 
yet more than half convinced, that prudence dictated the 
abandonment of the scheme. But for this very reason I 
persevered in it ; for I was at that period of my life so 

25 compleatly hag-ridden by the fear of being infiuenced by 
selfish motives, that to know a mode of conduct to be the 
dictate of prudente was a sort of presumptive proof to my 
feelings, that the contrary was the dictate of duty. Accord- 
ingly, I commenced the work, which was announced in 

30 London by long bills in letters larger than had ever been 
seen before, and which, (I have been informed, for I did not 
see them myself,) eclipsed the glories even of the lottery 
puffs. But, alas ! the publication of the very first number 
was delayed beyond tlie day announced for its appearance. 

35 In the second number an essay against fast days, with a 

I20 Biographia Liieraria ch. x 

most censurable application of a text from Isaiah for its 
motto, lost me near five hundred of my subscribers at one 
blow. In the two following numbers I made enemies of all 
my Jacobin and Democratic Patrons ; for, disgusted by their 
infidehty, and their adoption of French morals with French 5 
psilosophy ; and perhaps thinking, that charity ought to 
begin nearest home ; instead of abusing the government and 
the Aristocrats chiefiy or entirely, as had been expected of 
me, I levelled my attacks at " modern patriotism,'" and even 
ventured to declare my behef, that whatever the motives of 10 
ministers might have been for the sedition, (or as it was then 
the fashion to call them, the gagging) bills, yet the bills 
themselves would produce an effect to be desired by all the 
true friends of freedom, as far as they should contribute to 
deter men from openly declaiming on subjects, the principles 15 
of which they had never bottomed, and from " pleading to 
the poor and ignorant, instead of pleading for them." At 
the same time I avowed my conviction, that national educa- 
tion and a concurring spread of the gospel were the indis- 
pensable condition of any true pohtical amehoration. Thus 20 
by the time the seventh number was pubhshed, I had the 
mortification (but why should I say this, when in truth I 
cared too httle for any thing that concerned my worldly 
interests to be at all mortified about it ?) of seeing the 
preceding numbers exposed in sundry old iron shops for a 25 
penny a piece. At the ninth number I dropt the work. 
But from the London pubhsher I could not obtain a shilhng ; 

he was a and set me at defiance. From other places 

I procured but httle, and after such delays as rendered that 
httle worth nothing : and I should have been inevitably 30 
thrown into jail by my Bristol printer, who refused to wait 
even for a month, for a sum between eighty and ninety 
pounds, if the money had not been paid for me by a man 
by no means affluent, a dear friend, who attached himself to 
me from^my first arrival at Bristol, who has continued my 35 

CH. X Biographia Literaria 121 

friend with a fidelity unconquered by time or even by my 
own apparent neglect ; a friend from whom I never received 
an advice that was not wise, nor a remonstrance that was 
not gentle and affectionate. 
5 Conscientiously an opponent of the first revolutionary 
war, yet with my eyes thoroughly opened to the true char- 
acter and impotence of the favorers of revolutionary prin- 
ciples in England, principles which I held in abhorrence, 
(for it was part of my poHtical creed, that whoever ceased to 

10 act as an individual by making himself a member of any 
society not sanctioned by his Government, forfeited the 
rights of a citizen) — a vehement anti-ministeriahst, but 
after the invasion of Switzerland, a more vehement anti- 
galhcan, and still more intensely an anti-jacobin, I retired 

15 to a cottage at Stowey, and provided for my scanty mainten- 
ance by writing verses for a London Morning Paper. I saw 
plainly, that hterature was not a profession, by which I could 
expect to Hve ; for I could not disguise from myself, that, 
whatever my talents might or might not be in other respects, 

20 yet they were not of the sort that could enable me to be- 
come a popular writer ; and that whatever my opinions 
might be in themselves, they were almost equi-distant from 
all the three prominent parties, the Pittites, the Foxites, and 
the Democrats. Of the unsaleable nature of my writings I 

25 had an amusing memento one morning from our own servant 
girh For happening to rise at an earher hour than usual, 
I observed her putting an extravagant quantity of paper into 
the grate in order to hght the fire, and mildly checked her 
for her wastefulness ; " la, Sir ! " (repHed poor Nanny) 

30 " why, it is only Watchmen." 

I now devoted myself to poetry and to the study of ethics 
and psychology ; and so profound was my admiration at this 
time of Hartiey's Essay on Man, that I gave his name to my 
first-born. In addition to the gentleman, my neighbour, 

35 whose garden joined on to my Httle orchard, and the cultiva- 

122 Biographia Literaria ch. x 

tion of whose friendship had been my sole motive in choos- 
ing Stowey for my residence, I was so fortunate as to acquire, 
shortly after my settlement there, an invaluable blessing in 
the society and neighbourhood of one, to whom I could look 
up with equal reverence, whether I regarded him as a poet, 5 
a philosopher, or a man. His conversation extended to 
almost all subjects, except physics and pohtics ; with the 
latter he never troubled himself. Yet neither my retire- 
ment nor my utter abstraction from all the disputes of the 
day could secure me in those jealous times from suspicion and 10 
obloquy, which did not stop at me, but extended to my ex- 
cellent friend, whose perfect innocence was even adduced 
as a proof of his guilt. One of the many busy sycophants * 
of that day, (I here use the word sycophant in its original 
sense, as a wretch who flatters the prevaihng party by 15 
informing against his neighbours, under pretence that they 
are exporters of prohibited figs or fancies ! for the moral 
apphcation of the term it matters not which) — one of these 
sycophantic law-mongrels, discoursing on the poUtics of the 
neighbourhood, uttered the following deep remark: " As to 20 
Coleridge, there is not so much harm in him, for he is a 
whirl-brain that talks whatever comes uppermost ; but 

that ! he is the dark traitor. You never hear him say 

a syllahle on the suhject.'" 

Now that the hand of providence has disciphned all 25 
Europe into sobriety, as men tame wild elephants, by alter- 
nate blows and caresses ; now that Enghshmen of aU classes 
are restored to their old Enghsh notions and feehngs ; it will 
with difhculty be credited, how great an influence was at 
that time possessed and exerted by the spirit of secret defa- .^0 
mation, (the too constant attendant on party-zeal !) during 
the restless interim from 1793 to the commencement of the 
Addington administration, or the year before the truce of 

* 2vKovs (f)aiv(iv, to show or detect figs, the exportation of 
which from Attica was forbidden by the laws. 

CH. X Biographia Literaria 123 

Amiens. For by the latter period the minds of the parti- 
zans, exhausted by excess of stimulation and humbled by 
mutual disappointment, had become languid. The same 
causes, that inchned the nation to peace, disposed the indi- 

5 viduals to reconcihation. Both parties had found themselves 
in the wrong. The one had confessedly mistaken the moral 
character of the revolution, and the other had miscalculated 
both its moral and its physical resources. The experiment 
was made at the price of great, almost, we may say, of 

10 humihating sacrifices ; and wise men foresaw that it would 
fail, at least in its direct and ostensible object. Yet it was 
purchased cheaply, and reahzed an object of equal value, 
and, if possible, of still more vital importance. For it 
brought about a national unanimity unexampled in our 

15 history since the reign of Ehzabeth ; and providence, never 
wanting to a good work when men have done their parts, 
soon provided a common focus in the cause of Spain, which 
made us all once more Enghshmen by at once gratifying and 
correcting the predilections of both parties. The sincere 

20 reverers of the throne felt the cause of loyalty ennobled 
by its alhance with that of f reedom ; while the honest zealots 
of the people could not but admit, that freedom itself 
assumed a more winning form, humanized by loyalty and 
consecrated by reUgious principle. The youthful enthusiasts 

25 who, flattered by the morning rainbow of the French revolu- 
tion, had made a boast of expatriating their hopes and fears, 
now, disciphned bythe succeeding storms and sobered by 
increase of years, had been taught to prize and honour the 
spirit of nationahty as the best safeguard of national inde- 

30 pendence, and this again as the absolute pre-requisite and 
necessary basis of popular rights. 

If in Spain too disappointment has nipt our too forward 
expectations, yet ah is not destroyed that is checked. The 
crop was perhaps springing up too rank in the stalk to kern 

35 well ; and there were, doubtless, symptoms of the Galhcan 

124 Btographta Literaria ch. x 

hlight on it. If superstition and despotism have been suf- 
fered to let in their wolvish sheep to trample and eat it down 
even to the surface, yet the roots remain ahve, and the 
second growth may prove all the stronger and healthier for 
the temporary interruption. At all events, to ws heaven has 5 
been just and gracious. The people of England did their 
best, and have received their rewards. Long may we con- 
tinue to deserve it ! Causes, which it had been too generally 
the habit of former statesmen to regard as belonging to 
another world, are now admitted by all ranks to have been 10 
the main agents of our success. " We foitght from heaven ; 
the stars in their conrses fought against Sisera." If then 
unanimity grounded on moral feehngs has been among the 
least equivocal sources of our national glory, that man 
deserves the esteem of his countrymen, even as patriots, 15 
who devotes his hfe and the utmost efforts of his intellect to 
the preservation and continuance of that unanimity by the 
disclosure and estabhshment of principles. For by these 
all opinions must be ultimately tried ; and, (as the feehngs 
of men are worthy of regard only as far as they are the repre- 20 
sentatives of their fixed opinions), on the knowledge of these 
all unanimity, not accidental and fieeting, must be grounded. 
Let the scholar, who doubts this assertion, refer only to the 
speeches and writings of Edmund Burke at the commence- 
ment of the American war and compare them with his 25 
speeches and writings at the commencement of the French 
revolution. He will find the principles exactly the same 
and the deductions the same ; but the practical inferences 
almost opposite in the one case from those drawn in the 
other ; yet in both equally legitimate and in both equally 30 
confirmed by the results. Whence gained he this supe- 
riority of foresight ? Whence arose the striking difference, 
and in most instances even, the discrepancy between the 
grounds assigned by him, and by those who voted with 
him, on the same questions ? How are we to explain the 35 

CH. X Biographia Literaria 125 

notorious fact, that the speeches and writings of Edmund 
BuRKE are more interesting at the present day than they 
were found at the time of their first pubhcation ; while 
those of his illustrious confederates are either forgotten, or 
5 exist only to furnish proofs, that the same conclusion, which 
one man had deduced scientifically, may be brought out by 
another in consequence of errors that luckily chanced to 
neutrahze each other. It would be unhandsome as a con- 
jecture, even were it not, as it actually is, false in point of 

10 fact, to attribute this difference to deficiency of talent 
on the part of Burke's friends, or of experience, or of his- 
torical knowledge. The satisfactory solution is, that Ed- 
mund Burke possessed and had sedulously sharpened that 
eye, which sees all things, actions, and events, in relation to 

15 the laws that determine their existence and circumscribe 
their possibility. He referred habitually to principles. He 
was a scientific statesman ; and therefore a seer. For every 
principle contains in itself the germs of a prophecy ; and, 
as the prophetic power is the essential privilege of science, 

20 so the fulfilment of its oracles suppUes the outward and, 
(to men in general), the only test of its claim to the title. 
Wearisome as Burke's refinements appeared to his parlia- 
mentary auditors, yet the cultivated classes throughout 
Europe have reason to be thankful, that 

25 " he went on refining, 

And thought of convincing, while they thought of dining." 

Our very sign-boards, (said an illustrious friend to me), give 
evidence, that there has been a Titian in the world. In 
hke manner, not only the debates in parhament, not only 
30 our proclamations and state papers, but the essays and lead- 
ing paragraphs of our journals are so many remembrancers 
of Edmund Burke. Of this the reader may easily convince 
himself, if either by recollection or reference he will com- 
pare the opposition newspapers at the commencement and 

126 Biographia Literaria ch. x 

during the five or six following years of the French revolu- 
tion with the sentiments, and grounds of argument assumed 
in the same class of Journals at present, and for some 
years past. 

Whether the spirit of Jacobinism, which the writings of 5 
Burke exorcised from the higher and from the Hterary 
classes, may not, hke the ghost in Hamlet, be heard moving 
and mining in the underground chambers with an activity 
the more dangerous because less noisy, may admit of a ques- 
tion. I have given my opinions on this point, and the 10 
grounds of them, in my letters to Judge Fletcher occasioned 
by his CHARGE to the Wexford grand jury, and pubhshed in 
the Coiirier. Be this as it may, the evil spirit of jealousy, 
and with it the Cerberean whelps of feud and slander, no 
longer walk their rounds, in cultivated society. 15 

Far different were the days to which these anecdotes have 
carried me back. The dark guesses of some zealous Quid- 
nunc met with so congenial a soil in the grave alarm of 
a titled Dogberry of our neighbourhood, that a spy was 
actually sent down from the government pour surveillance of 20 
myself and friend. There must have been not only abun- 
dance, but yflm^y of these " honorable men"at thedisposal 
of Ministers : for this proved a very honest fellow. After 
three weeks' truly Indian perseverance in tracking us, (for 
we were commonly together,) during all which time seldom 25 
were we out of doors, but he contrived to be within hearing, 
(and all the while utterly unsuspected ; how indeed could 
such a suspicion enter our fancies ?) he not only rejected 
Sir Dogberry's request that he would try yet a little longer, 
but declared to him his behef, that both my friend and my- 30 
self were as good subjects, for aught he could discover to 
the contrary, as any in His Majesty's dominions. He had 
repeatedly hid himself, he said, for hours together behind 
a bank at the sea-side, (our favorite seat), and overheard 
cur conversation. At first he fancied, that we were aware 35 

CH. X Biographia Literaria 127 

of our danger ; for he often heard me talk of one Spy Nozy, 
which he was indined to interpret of himself, and of a re- 
markable feature belonging to him ; but he was speedily 
convinced that it was the name of a man who had made 

5 a book and lived long ago. Our talk ran most upon books, 
and we were perpetually desiring each other to look at this, 
and to hsten to that ; but he could not catch a word about 
poHtics. Once he had joined me on the road ; (this occur- 
red, as I was returning home alone from my friend's house, 

10 which was about three miles from my own cottage), and, 
passing himself off as a traveller, he had entered into con- 
versation with me, and talked of purpose in a democrat way 
in order to draw me out. The result, it appears, not only 
convinced him that I was no friend of Jacobinism ; but, (he 

15 added), I had " plainly made it out to be such a silly as well 
as wicked thing, that he felt ashamed though he had only 
put it on."" I distinctly remembered the occurrence, and had 
mentioned it immediately on my return, repeating what the 
traveller with his Bardolph nose had said, with my own 

20 answer ; and so Uttle did I suspect the true object of my 
" tempter ere accuser," that I expressed with no smallplea- 
sure my hope and behef, that the conversation had been of 
some service to the poor misled malcontent. This incident 
therefore prevented all doubt as to the truth of the report, 

25 which through a friendly medium came to me from the 
master of the village inn, who had been ordered to entertain 
the Government GentTeman in his best manner, but above all 
to be silent concerning such a person being in his house. 
At length he received Sir Dogberry's commands to accom- 

30 pany his guest at the final interview ; and, after the absol- 
ving suffrage of the gentleman honored with the confidence of 
Ministers, answered, as follows, to the following queries ? 
D. Well, landlord ! and what do you know of the person in 
question ? L. I see him often pass by with maister , 

35 my landlord, (i. e. the owner of the house), and sometimes 

128 Biographia Literaria ch. x 

with the new-comers at Holford ; but I never said a word to 
him or he to me. D. But do you not know, that he has 
distributed papers and hand-bills of a seditious nature 
among the common people ? L. No, your honor ! I never 
heard of such a thing. D. Have you not seen this Mr. 5 
Coleridge, or heard of, his haranguing and talking to knots 
and clusters of the inhabitants ? — What are you grinning at, 
Sir ? L. Beg your honor's pardon ! but I was only think- 
ing, how they'd have stared at him. If what I have heard 
be true, your honor ! they would not have understood 10 
a word he said. When our vicar was here, Dr. L. the 
master of the great school and Canon of Windsor, there was 

a great dinner party at maister 's ; and one of the 

farmers, that was there, told us that he and the Doctor 
talked real Hebrew Greek at each other for an hour together 15 
after dinner. D. Answer the question, Sir ! Does he ever 
harangue the people ? L. I hope your honor an't angry 
with me. I can say no more than I know. I never saw him 
talking with any one, but my landlord, and our curate, and 
the strange gentleman. D. Has he not been seen wandering 20 
on the hills towards the Channel, and along the shore, with 
books and papers in his hand, taking charts and maps of the 
country ? L. Why, as to that, your honor ! I own, I have 
heard ; I am sure, I would not wish to say ill of any body ; 
but it is certain, that I have heard — D. Speak out, man I 25 
don't be afraid, you are doing your duty to your King and 
Government. What have you heard ? L. Why, folks do 
say, your honor ! as how that he is a Poet, and that he is 
going to put Quantock and all about here in print ; and as 
they be so much together, I suppose that the strange gentle- 30 
man has some consarn in the business. — So ended this for- 
midable inquisition, the latter part of which alone requires 
explanation, and at the same time entitles the anecdote to 
a place in my hterary hfe. I had considered it as a defect in 
the admirable poem of the Task, that the subject, which 35 

CH. X Biographia Literaria 129 

gives the title to the work, was not, and indeed could not be, 
carried on beyond the three or four first pages, and that, 
throughout the poem, the connections are frequently awk- 
ward, and the transitions abrupt and arbitrary. I sought 

5 for a subject, that should give equal room and freedom for 
description, incident, and impassioned reflections on men, 
nature, and society, yet supply in itself a natural connection 
to the parts, and unity to the whole. Such a subject I con- 
ceived myself to have found in a stream, traced from its 

10 source in the hills among the yellow-red moss and conical 
glass-shaped tufts of bent, to the first break or fall, where 
its drops become audible, and it begins to form a channel ; 
thence to the peat and turf barn, itself built of the same dark 
squares as it sheltered ; to the sheepfold ; to the first culti- 

15 vated plot of ground ; to the lonely cottage and its bleak 
garden won from the heath ; to the hamlet, the villages, the 
market-town, the manufactories, and the seaport. My walks 
therefore were almost daily on the top of Quantock, and 
among its sloping combes. With my pencil and memoran- 

20 dum book in my hand, I was making studies, as the artists 
call them, and often moulding my thoughts into verse, with 
the objects and imagery immediately before my senses. 
Many circumstances, evil and good, intervened to prevent 
the completion of the poem, which was to have been entitled 

25 " The Brook." Had I finished the work, it was my purpose 
in the heat of the moment to have dedicated it to our then 
committee of public safety as containing the charts and 
maps, with which I was to have supphed the French Govern- 
ment in aid of their plans of invasion. And these too for 

30 a tract of coast that, from Clevedon to Minehead, scarcely 
permits the approach of a fishing-boat ! 

All my experience from my first entrance into Hfe to the 
present hour is in favor of the warning maxim, that the 
man, who opposes in toto the political or rehgious zealots of 

35 his age, is safer from their obloquy than he who differs from 


130 Btographta Literaria ch. x 

them but in one or two points, or perhaps only in degree. 
By that transfer of the feelings of private hfe into the dis- 
cussion of pubhc questions, which is the queen hee in the 
hive of party fanaticism, the partisan has more sympathy 
with an intemperate Opposite than with a moderate Friend. 5 
We now enjoy an intermission, and long may it continue ! 
In addition to far higher and more important merits, our 
present Bible societies and other numerous associations for 
national or charitable objects, may serve perhaps to carry off 
the superfiuous activity and fervour of stirring minds in 10 
innocent hyperboles and the bustle of management. But 
the poison-tree is not dead, though the sap may for a season 
have subsided to its roots. At least let us not be lulled into 
such a notion of our entire security, as not to keep watch 
and ward, even on our best feehngs. I have seen gross in- 15 
tolerance shewn in support of toleration ; sectarian anti- 
pathy most obtrusively displayed in the promotion of an 
undistinguishing comprehension of sects ; and acts of 
cruelty, (I had almost said,) of treachery, committed in 
furtherance of an object vitally important to the cause of 20 
humanity; and all this by men too of naturally kind 
dispositions and exemplary conduct. 

The magic rod of fanaticism is preserved in the very 
adyta of human nature ; and needs only the re-exciting 
warmth of a master hand to bud forth afresh and produce 25 
the old fruits. The horror of the peasants' war in Germany, 
and the direful effects of the Anabaptists' tenets, (which 
differed only from those of Jacobinism by the substitution of 
theological for philosophical jargon), struck all Europe for 
a time with affright. Yet httle more than a century was 3° 
sufficient to obhterate all effective memory of these events. 
The same principles with similar though less dreadful conse- 
quences were again at work from the imprisonment of the 
first Charles to the restoration of his son. The fanatic 
maxim of extirpating fanaticism by persecution produced 35 

CH. X Biographia Literaria 131 

a civil war. The war ended in the victory of the insurgents ; 
but the temper survived, and Milton had abundant grounds 
for asserting, that " Presbyter was but Old Priest writ 
large ! " One good result, thank heaven ! of this zealotry 
5 was the re-estabhshment of the church. And now it might 
have been hoped, that the mischievous spirit would have 
been bound for a season, " and a seal set upon him, that he 
might deceive the nation no more." But no ! The ball of 
persecution was taken up with undimished vigor by the 

10 persecuted. The same fanatic principle that, under the 
solemn oath and covenant, had turned cathedrals into sta- 
bles, destroyed the rarest trophies of art and ancestral piety, 
and hunted the brightest ornaments of learning and rehgion 
into holes and corners, now marched under episcopal ban- 

15 ners, and, having first crowded the prisons of England, 
emptied its whole vial of wrath on the miserable Covenanters 
of Scotland. {Laing's History of Scotland. — Walter Scotfs 
bards, ballads, &c.) A merciful providence at length con- 
strained both parties to join against a common enemy. 

20 A wise government followed ; and the estabhshed church 
became, and now is, not only the brightest example, but our 
best and only sure bulwark, of toleration ! the true and in- 
dispensable bank against a new inundation of persecuting 
zeal — EsTO perpetua ! 

25 A long interval of quiet succeeded ; or rather, the ex- 
haustion had produced a cold fit of the ague which was 
symptomatized by indifference among the many, and a ten- 
dency to infidehty or scepticism in the educated classes. At 
length those feehngs of disgust and hatred, which for a brief 

30 while the multitude had attached to the crimes and absurdi- 
ties of sectarian and democratic fanaticism, were trans- 
ferred to the oppressive privileges of the noblesse, and the 
luxury, intrigues and favoritism of the continental courts. 
The same principles, dressed in the ostentatious garb of 

35 a fashionable philosophy, once more rose triumphant and 

K 2 

132 Biographia Literaria ch. x 

effected the French revolution. And have we not within the 
last three or four years had reason to apprehend, that the 
detestable maxims and correspondent measures of the late 
French despotism had already bedimmed the pubUc recol- 
lections of democratic phrensy ; had drawn off to other 5 
objects the electric force of the feelings which had mcissed 
and upheld those recollections ; and that a favorable con- 
currence of occasions was alone wanting to awaken the 
thunder and precipitate the hghtning from the opposite 
quarter of the poHtical heaven ? (See The Friend, p. iio.) 10 

In part from constitutional indolence, which in the very 
hey-day of hope had kept my enthusiasm in check, but still 
more from the habits and infiuences of a classical education 
and academic pursuits, scarcely had a year elapsed from the 
commencement of my Hterary and pohtical adventures be- 15 
fore my mind sank into a state of thorough disgust and 
despondency, both with regard to the disputes and the par- 
ties disputant. With more than poetic feehng I exclaimed : 

" The sensual and the dark rebel in vain, 
Slaves by their own compulsion ! In mad game 20 

They break their manacles, to wear the name 
Of freedom, graven on a heavier chain. 

hberty ! with profitless endeavour 
Have I pursued thee many a weary hour ; 

But thou nor sweirst the victor's pomp, nor ever 25 

Didst breathe thy soul in forms of human power ! 
Alike from all, howe'er they praise thee, 
(Nor prayer nor boastful name delays thee) 
From superstition's harpy minions 
And factious blasphemy's obscener slaves, 3° 

Thou speedest on thy cherub pinions, 
The guide of homeless winds and playmate of the waves ! " 

France, a Palinodia. 

1 retired to a cottage in Somersetshire at the foot of 
Quantock, and devoted my thoughts and studies to the 
foundations of rehgion and morals. Here I found myself 35 
all afloat. Doubts rushed in ; broke upon me " from the 

CH. X Biographia Literaria 133 

fountains of the great deep,"" and fell " from the windows of 
heaven.'" The fontal truths of natural rehgion and the books 
of Revelation ahke contributed to the flood ; and it was long 
ere my ark touched on an Ararat, and rested. The idea of 
5 the Supreme Being appeared to me to be as necessarily 
imphed in all particular modes of being as the idea of infinite 
space in all the geometrical figures by which space is hmited. 
I was pleased with the Cartesian opinion, that the idea of 
God is distinguished from all other ideas by involving its 

10 reality ; but I was not wholly satisfied. I began then to 
ask myself, what proof I had of the outward existence of 
anything ? Of this sheet of paper for instance, as a thing 
in itself, separate from the phaenomenon or image in my per- 
ception. I saw, that in the nature of things such proof is 

1 5 impossible ; and that of all modes of being, that are not 
objects of the senses, the existence is assumed by a logical 
necessity arising from the constitution of the mind itself, 
by the absence of all motive to doubt it, not from any abso- 
lute contradiction in the supposition of the contrary. Still 

20 the existence of a being, the ground of all existence, was 
not yet the existence of a moral creator, and governor. 
" In the position, that all reality is either contained in the 
necessary being as an attribute, or exists through him, as its 
ground, it remains undecided whether the properties of in- 

35 telhgence and will are to be referred to the Supreme Being 
in the former or only in the latter sense ; as inherent attri- 
butes, or only as consequences that have existence in other 
things through him. Thus organization, and motion, are 
regarded, as from God, not in God. Were the latter the 

30 truth, then notwithstanding all the pre-eminence which must 
be assigned to the Eternal First from the sufficiency, 
unity, and independence of his being, as the dread ground of 
the universe, his nature would yet fall far short of that, 
which we are bound to comprehend in the idea of God. 

35 For, without any knowledge or determining resolve of its 

134 Biographia Literaria ch, x 

own, it would only be a blind necessary ground of other 
things and other spirits ; and thus would be distinguished 
from the fate of certain ancient philosophers in no respect, 
but that of being more definitely and intelhgibly described." 
Kant's Einzig moglicher Beweisgrund : vermischte Schriften, 5 
zweiter Band, § 102 and 103. 

For a very long time, indeed, I could not reconcile per- 
sonahty with infinity ; and my head was with Spinoza, 
though my whole heart remained with Paul and John. Yet 
there had dawned upon me, even before I had met with the 10 
Critique of the Pure Reason, a certain guiding hght, If 
the mere intellect could make no certain discovery of a holy 
and intelligent first cause, it might yet supply a demonstra- 
tion, that no legitimate argument could be drawn from 
the intellect against its truth. And what is this more than 15 
St. Paul's assertion, that by wisdom, (more properly trans- 
lated by the powers of reasoning) no man ever arrived at 
the knowledge of God ? What more than the subhmest, 
and probably the oldest, book on earth has taught us, 

"Silver and gold man searcheth out : 20 

Bringeth the ore out of the earth, and darkness into hght, 

But where findeth he wisdom ? 
Where is the place of understanding ? 

The abyss crieth ; it is not in me ! 

Ocean echoeth back ; not in me ! 25 

Whence then cometh wisdom ? 
Where dwelleth understanding ? 

Hidden from the eyes of the hving : 
Kept secret from the fowls of heaven ! 

Hell and death answer ; 3° 

We have heard the rumour thereof from afar ! 

GoD marketh out the road to it ; 
GoD knoweth its abiding place ! 

He beholdeth the ends of the earth ; 

He surveyeth what is beneath the heavens ! . 35 

CH. X Biographia Literaria 135 

And as he weighed out the winds, and measured the sea, 

And appointed laws to the rain, 

And a path to the thunder, 

A path to the fiashes of the Hghtning ! 

5 Then did he see it, 
And he counted it ; 
He searched into the depth thereof, 
And with a line did he compass it round ! 

But to man he said, 
10 The fear of the Lord is wisdom for thee ! 
And to avoid evil, 
That is thy understanding." — Job, Chap. 28th. 

I become convinced, that reUgion, as both the corner- 
stone and the key-stone of morahty, must have a moYol 

15 origin ; so far at least, that the evidence of its doctrines 
could not, hke the truths of abstract science, be wholly 
independent of the will. It were therefore to be expected, 
that its fundamental truth would be such as might be denied ; 
though only by the f ool, and even by the f ool from the mad- 

20 ness of the heart alone ! 

The question then concerning our f aith in the existence of 
a God, not only as the ground of the universe by his essence, 
but as its maker and judge by his wisdom and holy will, 
appeared to stand thus. The sciential reason, whose objects 

25 are purely theoretical, remains neutral, as long as its 
name and semblance are not usurped by the opponents of the 
doctrine. But it then becomes an effective ally by exposing 
the false show of demonstration, or by evincing the equal 
demonstrabihty of the contrary from premises equally logi- 

30 cal. The understanding mean time suggests, the analogy of 
experience facihtates, the behef. Nature excites and recalls 
it, as by a perpetual revelation. Our feehngs almost neces- 
sitate it ; and the law of conscience peremptorily com- 
mands it. The arguments, that at all apply to it, are in its 

35 favor ; and there is nothing against it, but its own sub- 
Hmity. It could not be intellectually more evident without 

136 Biographia Literaria ch. x 

becoming morally less effective ; without counteracting its 
own end by sacrificing the lije of faith to the cold mechanism 
of a worthless because compulsory assent. The beUef of 
a God and a future state, (if a passive acquiescence may be 
fiattered with the name of heliej), does not indeed always 5 
beget a good heart ; but a good heart so naturaUy begets 
the behef, that the very few exceptions must be regarded 
as strange anomahes from strange and unfortunate circum- 

From these premises I proceeded to draw the following 10 
conclusions. First, that having once fuUy admitted the 
existence of an infinite yet self-conscious Creator, we are not 
allowed to ground the irrationahty of any other article of 
faith on arguments which would equally prove that to be 
irrational, which we had allowed to be real. Secondly, that 15 
whatever is deducible from the admission of a selj-compre- 
hending and creative spirit may be legitimately used in proof 
of the possihility of any further mystery concerning the 
divine nature. " Possibilitatem mysteriorum (Trinitatis, &c.) 
contra insultus Infidehum et Haereticorum a contradictioni- 20 
bus vindico ; haud quidem veritatem, quse revelatione sola 
stabiliri possit " ; says Leibnitz in a letter to his Duke. He 
then adds the following just and important remark. " In 
vain will tradition or texts of scripture be adduced in sup- 
port of a doctrine, donec clava impossibihtatis et contradi- 25 
ctionis e manibus horum Herculum extorta fuerit. For the 
heretic will still reply, that texts, the hteral sense of which is 
not so much ahove as directly against all reason, must be 
understood figuratively, as Herod is a fox, &c." 

These principles I held, philosophically, while in respect 30 
of revealed rehgion I remained a zealous Unitarian. I con- 
sidered the idea of the Trinity a fair scholastic inference 
from the being of God, as a creative inteUigence ; and that 
it was therefore entitled to the rank of an esoteric doctrine 
of natural reUgion. But seeing in the same no practical or 35 

CH. X Bwgraphta Literaria 137 

moral bearing, I confined it to the schools of philosophy. 
The admission of the Logos, as hypostasized (i. e. neither 
a mere attribute, or a personification) in no respect removed 
my doubts concerning the incarnation and the redemption 
5 by the cross ; which I could neither reconcile in reason with 
the impassiveness of the Divine Being, nor in my moral 
feehngs with the sacred distinction between things and 
persons, the vicarious payment of a debt and the vicarious 
expiation of guilt. A more thorough revolution in my 

10 philosophic principles, and a deeper insight into my own 
heart, were yet wanting. Nevertheless, I cannot doubt, 
that the difference of my metaphysical notions frora those 
of Unitarians in general contributed to my final re-conver- 
sion to the whole truth in Christ ; even as according to his 

15 own confession the books of certain Platonic philosophers 
{libri quorundam Platonicorum) commenced the rescue of 
St. Augustine's faith from the same error aggravated by the 
far darker accompaniment of the Manichaean heresy. 

While my mind was thus perplexed, by a gracious provi- 

20 dence for which I can never be sufficiently grateful, the 
generous and munificent patronage of Mr. Josiah and Mr. 
Thomas Wedgewood enabled me to finish my education in 
Germany. Instead of troubhng others with my own crude 
notions and juvenile compositions, I was thenceforward 

25 better employed in attempting to store my own head with 
the wisdom of others. I made the best use of my time and 
means ; and there is*therefore no period of my hfe on which 
I can look back with such unmingled satisfaction. After 
acquiring a tolerable sufficiency in the German language * at 

* To those, who designto acquire the language of a country 
in the country itself, it may be useful, if I mention the incal- 
culable advantage which I derived from learning all the words, 
that could possibly be so learnt, with the objects before me, 
and without the intermediation of the Enghsh terms. It was 
a regular part of my morning studies for the first six weeks of 
my residence at Ratzeburg, to accompany the good and kind old 

138 Biographia Literaria ch. x 

Ratzeburg, which with my voyage and journey thither I 
have described in The Friend, I proceeded through Hanover 
to Gottingen. 

Here I regularly attended the lectures on physiology in 
the morning, and on natural history in the evening, under 5 
Blumenbach, a name as dear to every Englishman who has 
studied at that university, as it is venerable to men of 
science throughout Europe ! Eichhorn's lectures on the 
New Testament were repeated to me from notes by a student 
from Ratzeburg, a young man of sound learning and inde- 10 
fatigable industry, who is now, I beheve, a professor of the 
oriental languages at Heidelberg. But my chief efforts 
were directed towards a grounded knowledge of the German 
language and hterature. From Professor Tychsen I re- 
ceived as many lessons in the Gothic of Ulphilas as sufficed 15 

pastor, with whom I lived, from the cellar to the roof, through 
gardens, farmyard, &c., and to call every, the minutest, thing 
by its German name. Advertisements, farces, jest books, and 
the conversation of children while I was at play with them, 
contributed their share to a more home-hke acquaintance with 
the language, than I could have acquired from works of polite 
Uterature alone, or even from poUte society. There is a passagc 
of hearty sound sense in Luther's German letter on interpreta- 
tion, to the translation of which I shall prefix, for the sake of 
those who read the German, yet are not likely to have dipt 
often in the massive folios of this heroic reformer, the simple, 
sinewy, idiomatic words of the original. "Denn man muss 
nicht die Buchstaben in der Lateinischen Sprache fragen wie 
man soll Deutsch reden : sondern man muss die Mutter im 
Hause, die Kinder auf den Gassen, den gemeinen Mann auf 
dem Markte, darum fragen : und denselbigen auf das Maul 
sehen wie sie reden, und darnach dolmetschen. So verstehen 
sie es denn, und merken dass man Deutsch mit ihnen redet." 

For one must not ask the letters in the Latin tongue, how one 
ought to speak German ; but one must ask the mother in the 
house, the children in the lanes and alleys, the common man 
in the market, concerning this ; yea, and look at the moves of 
their mouths wliile they are talking, and thereafter interpret. 
They understand you then, and mark that one talks German 
with them. 

CH. X Biographia Literaria 139 

to make me acquainted with its grammar, and the radical 
words of most frequent occurrence ; and with the occasional 
assistance of the same philosophical hnguist, I read through * 
Ottfried's metrical paraphrase of the gospel, and the most 
6 important remains of the Theotiscan, or the transitional 
state of the Teutonic language from the Gothic to the old 
German of the Swabian period. Of this period (the pohshed 
dialect of which is analogous to that of our Chaucer, and 

* This paraphrase, written about the time of Charlemagne, 
is by no means deficient in occasional passages of considerable 
poetic merit. There is a fiow, and a tender enthusiasm in the 
following lines (at the conchision of Chapter V) which, even 
in the translation will not, I flatter myself, fail to interest the 
reader. Ottfried is describing the circumstances immediately 
following the birth of our Lord. 

" She gave with joy her virgin breast ; 
' ■ She hid it not, she bared the breast, 

Which suckled that divinest babe ! 
Blessed, blessed were the breasts 
Which the Saviour infant kiss'd ; 
And blessed, blessed was the mother 
Who wrapp'd his Umbs in swaddhng clothes, 
Singing placed him on her lap, 
Hung o'er him with her looks of love, 
And sooth'd him with a lulling motion. 
Blessed ; for she shelter'd him 
From the damp and chilUng air ; 
Blessed, blessed ! for she lay 
With such a babe in one blest bed, 
Close as babes and mothers Ue ! 
Blessed, blessed evermore, 
With her virgin Ups she kiss'd, 
With her arms, and to her breast 
She embraced the babe divine, 
Her babe divine the virgin mother ! 
There lives not on this ring of earth 
A mortal, that can sing her praise. 
Mighty mother, virgin pure, 
In the darkness and the night 
For us she bore the heavenly Lord ! " 

Most interesting is it to consider the effect, when the feeUngs 
are wrought above the natural pitch by the beUef of something 
mysterious, while all the images are'purely natural. Then it is, 
that reUgion and poetry strike deepest. 

140 Biographia Literaria ch. x 

which leaves the philosophic student in doubt, whether the 
language has not since then lost more in sweetness and 
flexibihty, than it has gained in condensation and copious- 
ness) I read with sedulous accuracy the Minnesinger (or 
singers of love, the provengal poets of the Swabian court) 5 
and the metrical romances ; and then laboured through 
suf&cient specimens of the master singers, their degenerate 
successors ; not however without occasional pleasure from 
the rude, yet interesting strains of Hans Sachs, the cobler 
of Nuremberg. Of this man's genius five foho volumes with 10 
double columns are extant in print, and nearly an equal 
number in manuscript ; yet the indefatigable bard takes 
care to inform his readers, that he never made a shoe the less, 
but had virtuously reared a large family by the labor of his 
hands. 15 

In Pindar, Chaucer, Dante, Milton, &c., &c., we have 
instances of the close connection of poetic genius with the 
love of hberty and of genuine reformation. The moral sense 
at least will not be outraged, if I add to the Hst the name 
of this honest shoemaker, (a trade by the by remarkable for 20 
the production of philosophers and poets). His poem en- 
titled the Morning Star, was the very first pubhcation that 
appeared in praise and support of Luther ; and an excel- 
lent hymn of Hans Sachs, which has been deservedly trans- 
lated into almost all the European languages, was commonly 25 
sung in the Protestant churches, whenever the heroic re- 
former visited them, 

In Luther's own German writings, and eminently in his 
translation of the Bible, the German language commenced. 
I mean the language as it is at present written ; that which 3° 
is caUed the High-German, as contra-distinguished from the 
Platt-Teutsch, the dialect of the flat or northern countries, 
and from the Ober-Teutsch, the language of the middle and 
Southern Germany. The High German is indeed a lingua 
communis, not actually the native language of any province, 35 

CH. X Biographia Literaria 141 

but the choice and fragrancy of all the dialects. From this 
cause it is at once the most copious and the most gramma- 
tical of all the European tongues. 
Within less than a century after Luther's death the Ger- 
6 man was inundated with pedantic barbarisms. A few 
volumes of this period I read through from motives of 
curiosity ; for it is not easy to imagine any thing more 
fantastic, than the very appearance of their pages. Almost 
every third word is a Latin word with a Germanized ending, 

10 the Latin portion being always printed in Roman letters, 

while in the last syllable the German character is retained. 

At length, about the year 1620, Opitz arose, whose genius 

more nearly resembled that of Dryden than any other poet, 

who at present occurs to my recoUection. In the opinion 

15 of Lessing, the most acute of critics, and of Adelung, the 
first of Lexicographers, Opitz, and the Silesian poets, his 
followers, not only restored the language, but still remain 
the models of pure diction. A stranger has no vote on such 
a question ; but after repeated perusal of the work my 

20 feehngs justified the verdict, and I seemed to have ac- 
quired from them a sort of tact for what is genuine in the 
style of later writers. 

Of the splendid era, which commenced with Gellert, Klop- 
stock, Ramler, Lessing, and tlieir compeers, I need not 

25 speak. With the opportunities which I enjoyed, it would 
have been disgraceful not to have been famihar with their 
writings ; and I have already said as much as the present 
biographical sketch requires concerning the German philo- 
sophers, whose works, for the greater part, I became ac- 

30 quainted with at a far later period. 

Soon after my return from Germany I was sohcited to 
undertake the literary and pohtical department in the 
Morning Post ; and I acceded to the proposal on the con- 
dition that the paper should thenceforwards be conducted 

36 on certain fixed and announced principles, and that I should 

142 Biographia Literaria ch. x 

neither be obliged nor requested to deviate from them in 
favour of any party or any event. In consequence, that 
Journal became and for many years continued anti-minis- 
terial indeed, yet with a very quahfied approbation of the 
opposition, and with far greater earnestness and zeal both 5 
anti-jacobin and anti-galhcan. To this hour I cannot find 
reason to approve of the first war either in its commence- 
ment or its conduct, Nor can I understand, with what 
reason either Mr. Perceval, (whom I am singular enough to 
regard as the best and wisest minister of this reign), or the 10 
present Administration, can be said to have pursued the 
plans of Mr. Pitt. The love of their country, and perse- 
verent hostihty to French principles and French ambition 
are indeed honourable quahties common to them and to 
their predecessor. But it appears to me as clear as the 15 
evidence of the facts can render any question of history, 
that the successes of the Percival and of the existing ministry 
have been owing to their having pursued measures the 
direct contrary to Mr. Pitfs. Such for instance are the 
concentration of the national force to one object ; the aban- 20 
donment of the subsidizing pohcy, so far at least as neither 
to goad nor bribe the continental courts into war, till the 
convictions of their subjects had rendered it a war of their 
own seeking ; and above all, in their manly and generous 
rehance on the good sense of the Enghsh people, and on 25 
that loyalty which is hnked to the very * heart of the 

* Lord Grenville has lately re-asserted (in the House of 
Lords) the imminent danger of a revolution in the earher part 
of the war against France. I doubt not, that his Lordship 
is sincere ; and it must be flattering to his feeUngs to beheve it. 
But where are the evidences of the danger, to which a future 
historian can appeal ? Or must he rest on an assertion ? Let 
me be permitted to extract a passage on the subject from The 
Friend. " I have said that to withstand the arguments of 
the lawless, the Antijacobins proposed to suspend the law, and 
by the interposition of a particular statute to echpse the blessed 
light of the universal sun, that spies and informers might 
tyrannize and escape in the ominous darkness. Oh ! if these 

CH. X Btographta Literaria 143 

nation by the system of credit and the interdependence of 

mistaken men, intoxicated and bewildered with the panic 
of property, which they themselves were the chief agents 
in exciting, had ever hved in a country where there really 
existed a general disposition to change and rebelhon ! Had 
they ever travelled through Sicily ; or through France at the 
first coming on of the revolution ; or even alas ! through too 
many of the provinces of a sister island ; they could not but 
have shrunk from their own declarations concerning the state 
of feeling and opinion at that time predominant throughout 
Great Britain. There was a time (Heaven grant that that time 
may have passed by !) when by crossing a narrow strait, they 
might have learnt the true symptoms of approaching danger, 
and have secured themselves from mistaking the meetings and 
idle rant of such sedition, as shrank appalled from the sight 
of a constable, for the dire murmuring and strange consterna- 
tion which precedes the storm or earthquake of national discord. 
Not only in coffee-houses and pubUc theatres, but even at the 
tables of the wealthy, they would have heard the advocates of 
existing Government defend their cause in the language and with 
the tone of men, who are conscious that they are in a minority. 
But in England, when the alarm was at its highest, there was 
not a city, no not a town or village, in which a man suspected 
of holding democratic principles could move abroad without 
receiving some unpleasant proof of the hatred, in which his 
supposed opinions were held by the great majority of the 
people ; and the only instances of popular excess and indig- 
nation were on the side of the Government and the Estabhshed 
Church. But why need I appeal to these invidious facts ? 
Turn over the pages of history and seek for a single instance 
of a revolution having been efiected without the concurrence 
of either the nobles, or the ecclesiastics, or the monied classes, 
in any country, in which the infiuences of property had ever 
been predominant, and where the interests of the proprietors 
were interlinked ! Examine the revolution of the Belgic pro- 
vinces under PhiUp 2nd ; the civil wars of France in the pre- 
ceding generation ; the history of the American revolution, or 
the yet more recent events in Sweden and in Spain ; and it will 
be scarcely possible not to perceive that in England from 1791 
to the peace of Amiens there were neither tendencies to con- 
federacy nor actual confederacies, against which the existing 
laws had not provided sufificient safeguards and an ample 
punishment. But alas ! the panic of property had been struck 
in the first instance for party purposes ; and when it became 
general, its propagators caught it themselves and ended in 
beUeving their own Ue ; even as our bulls in Borrowdale some- 

144 Biographia Literaria ch. x 

Be this as it may, I am persuaded that the Morning Post 
proved a far more useful ally to the Government in its most 
important objects, in consequence of its being generally 
considered as moderately anti-ministerial, than if it had 
been the avowed eulogist of Mr. Pitt. (The few, whose 5 - 
curiosity or fancy should lead them to turn over the Journals 1 
of that date, may find a small proof of this in the frequent 
charges made by the Morning Chronicle, that such and such 
essays or leading paragraphs had been sent from the Trea- 
sury.) The rapid and unusual increase in the sale of the 10 
Morning Post is a sufiicient pledge, that genuine impar- 
tiality with a respectable portion of hterary talent will 
secure the success of a newspaper without the aid of party 
or ministerial patronage. But by impartiahty I mean an 
honest and enhghtened adherence to a code of intelligible 15 
principles previously announced, and faithfully referred to 
in support of every judgement on men and events ; not in- 
discriminate abuse, not the indulgence of an editor's own 
mahgnant passions, and still less, if that be possible, a deter- 
mination to make money by flattering the envy and cu- 20 
pidity, the vindictive restlessness and self-conceit of the half- 
witted vulgar ; a determination almost fiendish, but which, 
I have been informed, has been boastfully avowed by one 
man, the most notorious of these moh-sycophants ! From j 
the commencement of the Addington administration to the 25 j 

times run mad \vith the echo of their own bellowing. The 
consequences were most injurious. Our attention was con- 
centrated to a monster, which could not survive the convulsions, 
in which it had been brought forth : even the enhghtened Burke 
himself too often talking and reasoning, as if a perpetual and 
organized anarchy had been a possible thing ! Thus while we 
were warring against French doctrines, we took Uttle heed ' 
whether the means, by which we attempted to overthrow them, 
were not hkely to aid and augment the far more formidable 
evil of French ambition. Like children we ran away from the 
yelping of a cur, and took shelter at the heels of a vicious war- 

CH. X Biographia Literaria 145 

present day, whatever I have written in The Morning Post, 
or (after that paper was transferred to other proprietors) in 
the CouRiER, has been in defence or furtherance of the 
measures of Government. 

5 "Things of this nature scarce survive that night 
That gives them birth ; they perish in the sight ; 
Cast by so far from after-life, that there 
Can scarcely aught be said, but that they were ! " 
Cartwright's Prol. to the Royal Siave. 

Yet in these labours I employed, and, in the behef of 

lo partial friends wasted, the prime and manhood of my intel- 
lect. Most assuredly, they added nothing to my fortune 
or my reputation. The industry of the week supphed the 
necessities of the week. From government or the friends 
of government I not only never received remuneration, or 

15 ever expected it ; but I was never honoured with a single 
acknowledgment, or expression of satisfaction. Yet the 
retrospect is far from painful or matter of regret. I am not 
indeed silly enough to take as any thing more than a violent 
hyperbole of party debate, Mr. Fox's assertion that the late 

30 war (I trust that the epithet is not prematurely apphed) was 
a war produced by the Morning Post ; or I should be proud 
to have the words inscribed on my tomb. As httle do I 
regard the circumstance, that I was a specified object of 
Buonaparte's resentment during my residence in Italy in 

25 consequence of those essays in the Moming Post during 
the peace of Amiens. (Of this I was warned, directly, by 
Baron Von Humboldt, the Prussian Plenipotentiary, who 
at that time was the minister of the Prussian court at Rome ; 
and indirectly, through his secretary, by Cardinal Fesch 

30 himself.) Nor do I lay any greater weight on the confirming 
fact, that an order for my arrest was sent from Paris, from 
which danger I was rescued by the kindness of a noble 
Benedictine, and the gracious connivance of that good old 
man, the present Pope. For the late tyranfs vindictive 


146 Biographia Literaria ch. x 

appetite was omnivorous, and preyed equally on a * Duc 
d'Enghien, and the writer of a newspaper paragraph. Like 
a truet vulture, Napoleon with an eye not less telescopic, 
and with a taste equally coarse in his ravin, could descend 
from the most dazzUng heights to pounce on the leveret in 5 
the brake, or even on the field-mouse amid the grass, But 
I do derive a gratification from the knowledge, that my 
essays contributed to introduce the practice of placing the 
questions and events of the day in a moral point of view; 
in giving a dignity to particular measures by tracing their 10 
pohcy or impohcy to permanent principles, and an interest 
to principles by the apphcation of them to individual 
measures. In Mr. Burke's writings indeed the germs of 
almost all pohtical tniths may be found. But I dare assume 
to myself the merit of having first expHcitly defined and 15 
anahzed the nature of Jacobinism ; and that in distinguish- 
ing the Jacobin from the repubhcan, the democrat, and the 
mere demagogue, I both rescued the word from remaining 
a mere term of abuse, and put on their guard many honest 
minds, who even in their heat of zeal against Jacobinism, 20 
admitted or supported principles from which the worst parts 
of that system may be legitimately deduced. That these are 
not necessary practical results of such principles, we owe to 
that fortunate inconsequence of our nature, which permits 
the heart to rectify the errors of the understanding. The 25 
detailed examination of the consular Government and its 
pretended constitution, and the proof given by me, that it 
was a consummate despotism in masquerade, extorted a 

* I seldom think of the murder of this illustrious Prince \vith- 
out recoUecting the lines of Valerius Flaccus (Argonaut. Lib. I. 


" Super ipsius ingens 

Instat fama viri, virtusque haud laeta Tyranno ; 
Ergo antire metus, juvenemque exstinguere pergit." 

+ Qripa be kcli rbv X^"'* *'*• '"'7'' ^opAcdSa, 
Kat Tov \aya6v, mi to tS>v Tavptov yivos. 
Phile, de animal. propriet. 

CH. X Biographia Literaria 147 

recantation even from the Morning Chronicle, which had 
previously extoUed this constitution as the perfection of a 
wise and regulated hberty. On every great occurrence 
I endeavoured to discover in past history the event, that 
5 most nearly resembled it. I procured, wherever it was pos- 
sible, the contemporary historians, memoriahsts, and pam- 
phleteers. Then fairly subtracting the points of difference 
from those of hkeness, as the balance favored the former or 
the latter, I conjectured that the result would be the same 

10 or different. In the series * of essays entitled " a comparison 
of France under Napoleon with Rome under the first Caesars," 
and in those which followed " on the probable final restora- 
tion of the Bourbons," I feel myself authorized to afi&rm, by 
the effect produced on many intelligent men, that, were the 

15 dates wanting, it might have been suspected that the essays 
had been written within the last twelve months. The same 
plan I pursued at the commencement of the Spanish revolu- 
tion, and with the same success, taking the war of the United 
Provinces with Philip 2nd. as the ground work of the com- 

30 parison. I have mentioned this from no motives of vanity, 
nor even from motives of self-defence, which would justify 
a certain degree of egotism, especially if it be considered, 
how often and grossly I have been attacked for sentiments, 
which I have exerted my best powers to confute and expose, 

25 and how grievously these charges acted to my disadvantage 
while I was in Malta. Or rather they would have done so, 
if my own feelings- had not precluded the wish of a settled 

* A small selection from the numerous articles furnished by 
me in the Morning Post and Courier, chiefly as they regard the 
sources and eflEects of Jacobinism and the connection of certain 
systems of political economy \vith Jacobinical despotism, vvill 
form part of " The Friend," which I am now completing, and 
which will be shortly pubUshed, for I can scarcely say re- 
published, with the numbers arranged in Chapters according 
to their subjects. 

" Accipe principium rursus, corpusque coactum 
Desere ; mutata meUor procede figura." 

L 2 

148 Biographia Literaria ch. x 

establishment in that island. But I have mentioned it from 
the full persuasion that, armed with the two-fold knowledge 
of history and the human mind, a man will scarcely err in 
his judgement concerningthe sumtotal of any future national 
event, if he have been able to procure the original docu- s 
ments of the past, together with authentic accounts of the 
present, and if he have a philosophic tact for what is truly 
important in facts, and in most instances therefore for such 
facts as the dignity of history has excluded from the 
volumes of our modern compilers, by the courtesy of the age 10 
entitled historians. 

To have lived in vain must be a painful thought to any 
man, and especially so to him who has made Hterature his 
profession. I should therefore rather condole than be angry 
with the mind, which could attribute to no worthier feehngs, 15 
than those of vanity or self-love, the satisfaction which 
I acknowledged myself to have enjoyed from the repubhca- 
tion of my pohtical essays (either whole or as extracts) not 
only in many of our own provincial papers, but in the federal 
journals throughout America. I regarded it as some proof ao 
of my not having laboured altogether in vain, that from the 
articles written by me shortly before and at the commence- 
ment of the late unhappy war with America, not only the 
sentiments were adopted, but in some instances the very 
language, in several of the Massachusetts state-papers. 25 

But no one of these motives nor all conjointly would have 
impelled me to a statement so uncomfortable to my own 
feehngs, had not my character been repeatedly attacked, by 
an unjustifiable intrusion on private hfe, as of a man in- 
corrigibly idle, and who, intrusted not only with ample 3° 
talents, but favored with unusual opportunities of improv- 
ing them, had nevertheless suffered them to rust away 
without any efficient exertion, either for his own good or 
that of his fellow-creatures. Even if the compositions, 
which I have made public, and that too in a form the most 35 


CH. X Biographia Literaria 149 

certain of an extensive circulation, though the least flattering 
to an author's self-love, had been pubhshed in books, they 
would have filled a respectable number of volumes, though 
every passage of merely temporary interest were omitted. 
5 My prose writings have been charged with a disproportionate 
demand on the attention ; with an excess of refinement in 
the mode of arriving at truths ; with beating the ground for 
that which might have been run down by the eye ; with the 
length and laborious construction of my periods ; in short 

10 with obscurity and the love of paradox. But my severest 
critics have not pretended to have found in my compositions 
triviahty, or traces of a mind that shrunk from the toil of 
thinking. No one has charged me with tricking out in other 
words the thoughts of others, or with hashing up anew the 

15 crambe jam decies cocta of Enghsh hterature or philo- 
sophy. Seldom have I written that in a day, the acquisition 
or investigation of which had not cost me the previous 
labour of a month. 

But are books the only channel through which the stream 

20 of intellectual usefulness can flow ? Is the diffusion ot truth 
to be estimated by pubhcations ; or pubhcations by the 
truth, which they diffuse or at least contain ? I speak it 
in the excusable warmth of a mind stung by an accusation, 
which has not only been advanced in reviews of the widest 

25 circulation, not only registered in the bulkiest works of 
periodical hterature, but by frequency of repetition has 
become an admifted fact in private hterary circles, and 
thoughtlessly repeated by too many who call themselves my 
friends, and whose own recoUections ought to have suggested 

30 a contrary testimony. Would that the criterion of a scholar's 
utihty were the number and moral value of the truths, which 
he has been the means of throwing into the general circula- 
tion ; or the number and value of the minds, whom by his 
conversation or letters he has excited into activity, and 

35 supphed with the germs of their after-growth ! A distin- 

150 Biographia Liieraria ch. x 

guished rank might not indeed, even then, be awarded to 
my exertions ; but I should dare look forward with confi- 
dence to an honorable acquittal. I should dare appeal to 
the numerous and respectable audiences, which at different 
times and in different places honored my lecture-rooms 5 
with their attendance, whether the points of view from which 
the subjects treated of were surveyed, whether the grounds 
of my reasoning were such, as they had heard or read else- 
where, or have since found in previous pubHcations. I can 
conscientiously declare, that the complete success of the 10 
Remorse on the first night of its representation did not give 
me as great or as heart-felt a pleasure, as the observation 
that the pit and boxes were crowded with faces famihar to 
me, though of individuals whose names I did not know, and 
of whom I knew nothing, but that they had attended one or 15 
other of my courses of lectures. It is an excellent though 
perhaps somewhat vulgar proverb, that there are cases 
where a man may be as well " «w jor a pound as for a penny.'^ 
To those, who from ignorance of the serious injury I have 
receiv6d from this rumour of having dreamed away my Ufe 20 
to no purpose, injuries which I unwilHngly remember at 
all, much less am disposed to record in a sketch of my 
hterary life ; or to those, who from their own feelings, or the 
gratification they derive from thinking contemptuously of 
others, would hke Job's comforters attribute these com- 25 
plaints, extorted from me by the sense of wrong, to self- 
conceit or presumptuous vanity, I have already furnished 
such ample materials, that I shall gain nothing by with- 
holding the remainder. I will not therefore hesitate to ask 
the consciences of those, who from their long acquaintances 30 
with me and with the circumstances are best quahfied to 
decide or be my judges, whether the restitution of the suum 
cuique would increase or detract from my hterary reputa- 
tion. In this exculpation I hope to be understood as speak- 
ing of myself comparatively, and in proportion to the claims, 35 

cH. X Biographia Literaria 151 

which others are intitled to make on my time or my talents. 
By what I have effected, am I to be judged by my fellow 
men ; what I could have done, is a question for my own con- 
science. On my own account I may perhaps have had suf- 
5 ficient reason to lament my deficiency in self-controul, and 
the neglect of concentering my powers to the reaHzation of 
some permanent work. But to verse rather than to prose, 
if to either, belongs the voice of mourning for 

" Keen pangs of love awakening as a babe 
10 Turbulent, with an outcry in the heart ; 

And fears self-wiird that shunned the eye of hope, 
And hope that scarce would know itself from fear ; 
Sense of past youth, and manhood come in vain, 
And genius given and knowledge won in vain ; 
15 And all which I had cuUed in wood-walks wild, 
And all which patient toil had rear'd, and all 
Commune with thee had open'd out — but flowers 
Strew'd on my corpse, and borne upon my bier, 
In the same coffin, for the self-same grave ! " 

S. T. C. 

20 These will exist, for the future, I trust, only in the poetic 
strains, which the feehngs at the time called forth. In those 
only, gentle reader, 

"Affectus animi varios, bellumque sequacis 
Perlegis invidiae, curasque revolvis inanes, 

25 Quas humihs tenero stylus ohm effudit in aevo. 
Perlegis et lacrymas, et quod pharetratus acuta 
IUe puer puero fecit mihi cuspide vulnus. 
Omnia paulatim consumit longior ^tas, 
vlvendoque simul morimur, rapimurque manendo. 

30 Ipse mihi collatus enim non ille videbor ; 

Frons aha est, moresque ahi, nova mentis imago, 
Vox ahudque sonat. Jamque observatio vitae 
Multa dedit : — lugere nihil, ferre omnia ; jamque 
Paulatim lacrymas rerum experientia tersit." 

152 Biographia Literaria ch. xi 


An affectionate exhortation to those who in early life feel them- 
selves disposed to become authors. 

It was a favourite remark of the late Mr. Whitbread's, 
that no man does any thing from a single motive. The 
separate motives, or rather moods of mind, which produced 
the preceding reflections and anecdotes have been laid open 
to the reader in each separate instance. But an interest in 5 
the welfare of those, who at the present time may be in cir- 
cumstances not dissimilar to my own at my first entrance 
into hfe, has been the constant accompaniment, and (as it 
were) the under-song of all my feehngs. Whitehead exert- 
ing the prerogative of his laureatship addressed to youthful 10 
poets a poetic charge, which is perhaps the best, and cer- 
tainly the most interesting, of his works. With no other 
privilege than that of sympathy and sincere good wishes, 
I would address an affectionate exhortation to the youthful 
Mterati, grounded on my own experience. It will be but 15 
short ; for the beginning, middle, and end converge to one 
charge : never pursue literature as a trade. With the 
exception of one extraordinary man, I have never known an 
individual, least of all an individual of genius, healthy or 
happy without a profession, i. e. some regular employment, 20 
which does not depend on the will of the moment, and which 
can be carried on so far mechanically that an average quan- 
tum only of health, spirits, and intellectual exertion are 
requisite to its faithful discharge. Three hours of leisure, 
unannoyed by any alien anxiety, and looked forward to with 25 
dehght as a change and recreation, will suffice to reahze in 
hterature a larger product of what is truly genial, than weeks 
of compulsion. Money, and immediate reputation form 
only an arbitrary and accidental end of hterary labor. The 
hope of increasing them by any given exertion will often 30 

CH. XI Biographia Literatia 153 

prove a stimulant to industry ; but the necessity of acquir- 
ing them will in aU works of genius convert the stimulant 
into a narcotic. Motives by excess reverse their very nature, 
and instead of exciting, stun and stupify the mind. For it 
5 is one contradistinction of genius from talent, that its pre- 
dominant end is always comprized in the means ; and this 
is one of the many points, which estabhsh an analogy be- 
tween genius and virtue. Now though talents may exist 
without genius, yet as genius cannot exist, certainly not 

10 manifest itself, without talents, I would advise every scholar, 
who feels the genial power working within him, so far to 
make a division between the two, as that he should devote 
his talents to the acquirement of competence in some known 
trade or profession, and his genius to objects of his tranquil 

15 and unbiassed choice ; while the consciousness of being ac- 
tuated in both ahke by the sincere desire to perform his duty, 
will ahke ennoble both. " My dear young friend," (I would 
say) " suppose yourself estabhshed in any honorable occu- 
pation. From the manufactory or counting-house, from the 

20 law-court, or from having visited your last patient, you 
return at evening, 

" Dear tranquil time, when the sweet sense of home 
Is sweetest " 

to your family, prepared for its social enjoyments, with 
25 the very countenances of your wife and children brightened, 
and their voice of Wfelcome made doubly welcome, by the 
knowledge that, as far as they are concemed, you have 
satisfied the demands of the day by the labor of the day. 
Then, when you retire into your study, in the books on your 
30 shelves you revisit so many venerable friends with whom you 
can converse. Your own spirit scarcely less free from per- 
sonal anxieties than the great minds, that in those books are 
stih hving for you ! Even your writing desk with its blank 
paper and all its other implements will appear as a chain of 

154 Biographia Literaria ch. xi 

flowers, capable of linking your feelings as well as thoughts 
to events and characters past or to come ; not a chain of 
iron, which binds you down to think of the future and the 
remote by recaUing the claims and feehngs of the peremptory 
present. But why should I say retire ? The habits of active 5 
life and daily intercourse with the stir of the world will tend 
to give you such self-command, that the presence of your 
family will be no interruption. Nay, the social silence, or 
undisturbing voices of a wife or sister, will be hke a restora- 
tive atmosphere, or soft music which moulds a dream with- 10 
out becoming its object. If facts are required to prove the 
possibility of combining weighty performances in hterature 
with fuU and independent employment, the works of Cicero 
and Xenophon among the ancients ; of Sir Thomas Moore, 
Bacon, Baxter, or to refer at once to later and cotemporary 15 
instances, Darwin and Roscoe, are at once decisive of the 

But all men may not dare promise themselves a sufhciency 
of self-controul for the imitation of those examples : though 
strict scrutiny should always be made, whether indolence, 20 
restlessness, or a vanity impatient for immediate gratifica- 
tion, have not tampered with the judgement and assumed 
the vizard of humihty for the purposes of self-delusion. Still 
the church presents to every man of learning and genius 
a profession, in which he may cherish a rational hope of being 25 
able to unite the widest schemes of Hterary utihty with the 
strictest performance of professional duties. Among the 
numerous blessings of christianity, the introduction of an 
estabhshed church makes an especial claim on the gratitude 
of scholars and philosophers ; in England, at least, where 30 
the principles of Protestantism have conspired with the 
freedom of the government to double all its salutary powers 
by the removal of its abuses. 

That not only the maxims, but the grounds of a pure 
morality, the mere fragments of which 35 

CH. XI Biographia Literaria 155 

the lofty grave tragedians taught 

In chorus or iambic, teachers best 

Of moral pradence, with dehght received 

In brief sententious precepts ; " 

Paradise Regained. 

5 and that the subhme traths of the divine unity and attri- 
butes, which a Plato found most hard to learn and deemed 
it still more difficult to reveal ; that these should have become 
the almost hereditary property of childhood and poverty, 
of the hovel and the workshop ; that even to the unlettered 

10 they sound as common place, is a phenomenon, which must 
withhold all but minds of the most vulgar cast from under- 
valuing the services even of the pulpit and the reading desk. 
Yet those, who confine the efficiency of an estabHshed 
church to its public ofhces, can hardly be placed in a much 

1 5 higher rank of intellect. That to every parish throughout 
the kingdom there is transplanted a germ of civihzation ; 
that in the remotest villages there is a nucleus, round which 
the capabiHties of the place may crystahize and brighten ; 
a model sufficiently superior to excite, yet sufhciently near 

20 to encourage and facihtate, imitation ; this, the inobtrusive 
continuous agency of a Protestant church establishment, 
this it is, which the patriot, and the philanthropist, who 
would fain unite the love of peace with the faith in the pro- 
gressive amehoration of mankind, cannot estimate at too 

25 high a price. " It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, 
with the precious onyx, or the sapphire. No mention shall 
bc made of coral, or of pearls : for the price of wisdom is 
above rabies." The clergyman is with his parishioners and 
among them ; he is neither in the cloistered ceH, nor in the 

30 wilderness, but a neighbour and a family-man, whose educa- 
tion and rank admit him to the mansion of the rich land- 
holder, while his duties make him the frequent visitor of 
the farm-house and the cottage. He is, or he may become, 
connected with the famihes of his parish or its vicinity by 

156 Biographta Literaria ch. xi 

marriage. And among the instances of the bhndness, or at 
best of the short-sightedness, which it is the nature of cupi- 
dity to inflict, I know few more striking than the clamors of 
the farmers against church property. Whatever was not 
paid to the clergyman would inevitably at the next lease 5 
be paid to the landholder, while, as the case at present 
stands, the revenues of the church are in some sort the 
reversionary property of every family, that may have a 
member educated for the church, or a daughter that may 
marry a clergyman. Instead of being foreclosed and im- 10 
movable, it is in fact the only species of landed property, 
that is essentially moving and circulative. That there exist 
no inconveniences, who will pretend to assert ? But I have 
yet to expect the proof, that the inconveniences are greater 
in this than in any other species ; or that either the farmers 15 
or the clergy would be benefited by forcing the latter to 
become either Trullibers or salaried placemen. Nay, I do 
not hesitate to declare my firm persuasion, that whatever 
reason of discontent the farmers may assign, the true cause 
is this ; that they may cheat the parson, but cannot cheat 20 
the steward ; and that they are disappointed, if they should 
have been able to withhold only two pounds less than the 
legal claim, having expected to withhold five. At all events, 
considered relatively to the encouragement of learning and 
genius, the establishment presents a patronage at once so 25 
effective and unburthensome, that it would be impossible 
to afford the hke or equal in any but a christian and Protes- 
tant country. There is scarce a department of human know- 
ledge without some bearing on the various critical, histori- 
cal, philosophical and moral truths, in which the scholar 30 
must be interested as a clergyman ; no one pursuit worthy 
of a man of genius, which may not be followed without 
incongruity. To give the history of the bible as a book, 
would be little less than to relate the origin or first excite- 
ment of all the Uterature and science, that we now possess. 35 

CH. XI Biographm Literaria 157 

The very decorum, which the profession imposes, is favor- 
able to the best purposes of genius, and tends to counteract 
its most frequent defects. Finally, that man must be defi- 
cient in sensibihty, who would not find an incentive to 
5 emulation in the great and burning hghts, which in a long 
series have illustrated the church of England ; who would 
not hear from within an echo to the voice from their sacred 

" Et Pater iEneas et avunculus excitat Hector." 

10 But, whatever be the profession or trade chosen, the 
advantages are many and important, compared with the 
state of a mere hterary man, who in any degree depends 
on the sale of his works for the necessaries and comforts of 
Ufe. In the former a man hves in sympathy with the 

15 world, in which he hves. At least he acquires a better and 
quicker tact for the knowledge of that, with which men in 
general can sympathize. He learns to manage his genius 
more prudently and efficaciously. His powers and acquire- 
ments gain him hkewise more real admiration ; for they 

20 surpass the legitimate expectations of others. He is some- 
thing besides an author, and is not therefore considered 
merely as an author. The hearts of men are open to him, 
as to one of their own class ; and whether he exerts himself 
or not in the conversational circles of his acquaintance, 

25 his silence is not attributed to pride, nor his communicative- 
ness to vanity. To t-hese advantages I will venture to add 
a superior chance of happiness in domestic hfe, were it only 
that it is as natural for the man to be out of the circle of his 
household during the day, as it is meritorious for the woman 

30 to remain for the most part within it. But this subject 
involves points of consideration so numerous and so dehcate, 
and would not only permit, but require such ample docu- 
ments from the biography of literary men, that I now merely 
allude to it in transitu. When the same circumstance has 

158 Biographia Literaria ch. xi 

occurred at very different times to very different persons, 
all of whom have some one thing in common ; there is rea- 
son to suppose that such circumstance is not merely attribu- 
table to the persons concerned, but is in some measure 
occasioned by the one point in common to them all. Instead 5 
of the vehement and almost slanderous dehortation from 
marriage, which the Misogyne, Boccaccio {Vita e Costumi 
di Dante, p. 12, 16) addresses to hterary men, I would sub- 
stitute the simple advice : be not merely a man of letters ! 
Let hterature be an honourable augmentation to your arms ; 10 
but not constitute the coat, or fill the escutchion ! 

To objections from conscience I can of course answer in 
no other way, than by requesting the youthful objector (as 
I have already done on a former occasion) to ascertain with 
strict self-examination, whether other infiuences may not be 15 
at work ; whether spirits, " not of health," and with whispers 
^' not from heaven," may not be walking in the twilight of his 
consciousness. Let him catalogue his scruples, and reduce 
them in a distinct intelhgible form ; let him be certain, that 
he has read with a docile mind and favourable dispositions 20 
the best and most fundamental works on the subject ; that 
he has had both mind and heart opened to the great and 
illustrious quahties of the many renowned characters, who 
had doubted hke himself, and whose researches had ended 
in the clear conviction, that their doubts had been ground- 25 
less, or at least in no proportion to the counter-weight, 
Happy will it be for such a man, if among his contempora- 
ries elder than himself he should meet with one, who, with 
similar powers and feehngs as acute as his own, had enter- 
tained the same scruples ; had acted upon them ; and who .^0 
by after-research (when the step was, alas ! irretrievable, 
but for that very reason his research undeniably disinter- 
ested) had discovered himself to have quarrelled with re- 
ceived opinions only to embrace errors, to have left the 
direction tracked out for him on the high road of honorable 35 

cH. XI Biographia Literaria 159 

exertion, only to deviate into a labyrinth, where when he 
had wandered till his head was giddy, his best good fortune 
was finally to have found his way out again, too late for 
prudence though not too late for conscience or for truth ! 
5 Time spent in such delay is time won : for manhood in the 
meantime is advancing, and with it increase of knowledge, 
strength of judgement, and above all, temperance of feel- 
ings. And even if these should effect no change, yet the 
delay will at least prevent the final approval of the decision 

10 from being alloyed by the inward censure of the rashness 
and vanity, by which it had been precipitated. It would 
be a sort of irrehgion, and scarcely less than a Hbel on human 
nature to beheve, that there is any estabhshed and reputable 
profession or employment, in which a man may not continue 

15 to act with honesty and honor ; and doubtless there is 
hkewise none, which may not at times present temptations 
to the contrary. But woefully will that man find himself 
mistaken, who imagines that the profession of hterature, 
or (to speak more plainly) the traie of authorship, besets 

20 its members with fewer or with less insidious temptations, 
than the church, the law, or the different branches of com- 
merce. But I have treated sufficiently on this unpleasant 
subject in an early chapter of this volume. I will conclude 
the present therefore with a short extract from Herder, 

25 whose name I might have added to the illustrious hst of 
those, who have combined the successful pursuit of the 
Muses, not only with the faithful discharge, but with the 
highest honors and honorable emoluments, of an estabhshed 
profession. The translation the reader will find in a note 

30 below.* "Am sorgfaltigsten, meiden Sie die Autorschaft. 

* Translation. 
" With the greatest possible solicitude avoid authorship. 
Too early or immoderately employed, it makes the head waste 
and the heart empty ; even were there no other worse con- 
sequences. A person, who reads only to print, in all proba- 
bility reads amiss ; and he, who sends away through the pen 

i6o Biographia Literaria ch. xi 

Zu friih oder unmassig gebraucht, macht sie den Kopf Nviiste 
und das Herz leer ; wenn sie auch sonst keine iible Folgen 
gabe. Ein Mensch, der nur Xx^zti um zu drucken, heset 
wahrscheinhch iibel ; und wer jeden Gedanken, der ihm jl 
aufstosst, durch Feder und Presse versendet, hat sie in 5 * 
kurzer Zeit alle versandt, und wird bald ein blosser Diener 
der Druckerey, ein Buchstabensetzer werden." 



A Chapler of reqnests and premonitions concerning the perusal 
or omission of the chapter that follows. 

In the penisal of philosophical works I have been greatly 

benefited by a resolve, which, in the antithetic form and with 

the allowed quaintness of an adage or maxim, I have been 10 

accustomed to word thus : " iintil you understand a write/s 

ignorance, presume yourself ignorant of his understanding." 

This golden rule of mine does, I own, resemble those of 

Pythagoras in its obscurity rather than in its depth. If 

however the reader will permit me to be my own Hierocles, 15 

I trust, that he wiD find its meaning fully explained by the 

foUowing instances. I have now before me a treatise of a 

rehgious f anatic, full of dreams and supernatural experiences. 

I see clearly the writer's grounds, and their hollowness. 

I have a complete insight into the causes, which through the 2 

medium of his body has acted on his mind ; and by apphca- 

tion of received and ascertained laws I can satisfactorily 

explain to my owti reason all the strange incidents, which 

the writer records of himself. And this I can do without 

and the press every thought, the moment it occurs to him, 
will in a short time have sent all away, and will become a mere 
journeyman of the printing-of&ce, a compositor." 

To which I may add from myself, that what medical physio- 
logists afi&rmof certain secretions appUesequally toour thoughts; 
they too must be taken up again into the circulation, and be 
again and again re-secreted in order to ensure a healthful vigor, 
both to the mind and to its intellectual offspring. 

CH. XII Biographia Litei'aria i6i 

suspecting him of any intentional falsehood. As when in 
broad day-hght a man tracks the steps of a traveller, who 
had lost his way in a fog or by a treacherous moonshine, even 
so, and with the same tranquil sense of certainty, can I fol- 
5 low the traces of this bewildered visionary. I understand 


On the other hand, I have been re-perusing with the best 
energies of my mind the Timasus of Plato. Whatever 
I comprehend, impresses me with a reverential sense of the 

lo author's genius ; but there is a considerable portion of the 
work, to which I can attach no consistent meaning. In 
other treatises of the same philosopher, intended for the 
average comprehensions of men, I have been dehghted 
with the masterly good sense, with the perspicuity of the 

15 language, and the aptness of the inductions. I recollect 
hkewise, that numerous passages in this author, which I 
thoroughly comprehend, were formerly no less unintelli- 
gible to me, than the passages now in question. It would, 
I am aware, be quite fashionable to dismiss them at once as 

20 Platonic Jargon. But this I cannot do with satisfaction tomy 
own mind, because I have sought in vain for causes adequate 
to the solution of the assumed inconsistency. I have no in- 
sight into the possibihty of a man so eminently wise using 
words with such half-meanings to himself, as must perforce 

25 pass into no-meaning to his readers. When in addition to 
the motives thus suggested by my own reason, I bring into 
distinct remembrartce the number and the series of great 
men, who after long and zealous study of these works had 
joined in honoring the name of Plato with epithets, that 

30 almost transcend humanity, I feel, that a contemptuous 
verdict on my part might argue want of modesty, but would 
hardly be received by the judicious, as evidence of superior 
penetration. Therefore, utterly baffled in all my attempts 
to understand the ignorance of Plato, I conclude myself 



i62 Biographia Literaria ch. xh 

In lieu of the various requests which the anxiety of author- 
ship addresses to the unknown reader, I advance but this 
one ; that he will either pass over the following chapter 
altogether, or read the whole connectedly. The fairest 
part of the most beautiful body will appear deformed and 5 
monstrous, if dissevered from its place in the organic Whole. 
Nay, on dehcate subjects, where a seemingly trifling differ- 
ence of more or less may constitute a difference in kind,, 
even a faithful display of the main and supporting ideas, 
if yet they are separated from the forms by which they are 10 
at once cloathed and modified, may perchance present a 
skeleton indeed ; but a skeleton to alarm and deter. Though 
I might find numerous precedents, I shall not desire the 
reader to strip his mind of all prejudices, or to keep all prior 
systems out of view during his examination of the present. 15 
For in truth, such requests appear to me not much unhke the 
advice given to hypochondriacal patients in Dr. Buchan's 
domestic medicine ; videhcet, to preserve themselves uni- 
formly tranquil and in good spirits. Till I had discovered 
the art of destroying the memory a parte post, without injury 20 
to its future operations, and without detriment to the judge- 
ment, I should suppress the request as premature ; and 
therefore, however much I may wish to be read with an 
unprejudiced mind, I do not presume to state it as a neces- 
sary condition. 25 

The extent of my daring is to suggest one criterion, by 
which it may be rationally conjectured before-hand, whether 
or no a reader would lose his time, and perhaps his temper, 
in the perusal of this, or any other treatise constructed on 
similar principles. But it would be cruelly misinterpreted, 30 
as implying the least disrespect either for the moral or 
intellectual quahties of the individuals thereby precluded. 
The criterion is this : if a man receives as fundamental 
f acts, and therefore of course indemonstrable and incapable 
of further analysis, the general notions of matter, spirit, soul, 35 

cH. XII Biographia Literaria 163 

body, action, passiveness, time, space, cause, and effect, 
consciousness, perception, memory and habit ; if he feels 
his mind completely at rest concerning all these, and is 
satisfied, if only he can analyse all other notions into some 
5 one or more of these supposed elements with plausible 
subordination and apt arrangement : to such a mind I 
would as courteously as possible convey the hint, that for 
him the chapter was not written. 

" Vir bonus es, doctus, prudens ; ast hauci tihi spiro." 

10 For these terms do in truth include all the difficulties, 
which the human mind can propose for solution. Taking 
them therefore in mass, and unexamined, it requires only 
a decent apprenticeship in logic, to draw forth their contents 
in all forms and colours, as the professors of legerdemain at 

15 our village fairs pull out ribbon after ribbon from their 
mouths. And not more difficult is it to reduce them back 
again to their different genera. But though this analysis 
is highly useful in rendering our knowledge more distinct, 
it does not really add to it. It does not increase, though it 

20 gives us a greater mastery over, the wealth which we before 
possessed. For forensic purposes, for all the estabhshed 
professions of society, this is sufficient. But for philosophy 
in its highest sense as the science of ultimate truths, and 
therefore scientia scientiarum, this mere analysis of terms is 

25 preparative only, though as a preparative disciphne indis- 

Still less dare a favorable perusal be anticipated from the 
proselytes of that compendious philosophy, which talking of 
mind but thinking of brick and mortar, or other images 

3c equally abstracted from body, contrives a theory of spirit by 
nicknaming matter, and in a few hours can quahfy its dullest 
disciples to explain the omne scibile by reducing all things 
to impressions, ideas, and sensations. 

But it is time to tell the truth ; though it requires some 


164 Biographia Literaria ch. xh 

courage to avow it in an age and country, in which disquisi- 
tions on all subjects, not privileged to adopt technical terms 
or scientific symbols, must be addressed to the public. 
I say then, that it is neither possible or necessary for all 
men, or for many, to be philosophers. There is a fhilo- 5 
sophic (and inasmuch as it is actuahzed by an effort of free- 
dom, an artificial) consciousness, which hes beneath or (as 
it were) hehind the spontaneous consciousness natural to all 
reflecting beings. As the elder Romans distinguished their 
northern provinces into Cis-Alpine and Trans-Alpine, so 10 
may we divide all the objects of human knowledge into 
those on this side, and those on the other side of the spon- 
taneous consciousness ; citra et trans conscientiam com- 
munem. The lalter is exclusively the domain of pure 
philosophy, which is therefore properly entitled transcen- 15 
dental, in order to discriminate it at once, both from mere 
reflection and y^-presentation on the one hand, and on the 
other from those fiights of lawless speculation which, aban- 
doned by all distinct consciousness, because transgressing 
the bounds and purposes of our intellectual faculties, are 20 
justly condemned, as transcendent * . The first range of hills, 

* This distinction between transcendental and transcendent 
is observed by our elder divines and philosophers, whenever 
they express themselves scholastically. Dr. Johnson indeed 
has confounded the two words ; but his own authorities do 
not bear him out. Of this celebrated dictionary I will venture 
to remark once for all, that I should suspect the man of a morose 
disposition who should speak of it without respect and gratitude 
as a most instructive and entertaining book, and hitherto, un- 
fortunately, an indispensable book ; but I confess, that I should 
be surprized at hearing from a philosophic and thorough scholar 
any but very qualified praises of it, as a dictionary. I am not 
now ahuding to the number of genuine words omitted ; for 
this is (and perhaps to a greater extent) true, as Mr. Wakefield 
has noticed, of our best Greek Lexicons, and this too after the 
successive labors of so many giants in learning. I refer at present 
both to omissions and commissions of a more important nature. 
What these are, me saltem judice, will be stated at fuU in The 
Friend, re-pubUshed and completed, 

CH. XII Biographia Literaria 165 

that encircles the scanty vale of human hfe, is the horizon 
for the majority of its inhabitants. On its ridges the com- 
mon sun is born and departs. From ihem the stars rise, and 
touching them they vanish. By the many, even this range, 
l the natural hmit and bulwark of the vale, is but imperfectly 
known. Its higher ascents are too often hidden by mists 
and clouds from uncultivated swamps, which few have 
courage or curiosity to penetrate. To the multitude below 
these vapors appear, now as the dark haunts of terrific 

I had never heard of the correspondence between Wakefield 
and Fox till I saw the account of it this morning (i6th Sep- 
tember 1 8 1 5 ) in the Monthly Review. I was not a little grati- 
fied at finding, that Mr. Wakefield had proposed to himself 
nearly the same plan for a Greek and EngUsh Dictionary, which 
I had formed, and began to execute, now ten years ago. But 
far, far more grieved am I, that he did not live to compleat it. 
I cannot but think it a subject of most serious regret, that the 
same heavy expenditure, which is now employing in the ve- 
publication of Stephanus augmented, had not been apphed to 
a new Lexicon on a more philosophical plan, with the English, 
German, and French synonymes as well as the Latin. In 
almost every instance the precise individual meaning might be 
given in an EngUsh or German word ; whereas in Latin we 
must too often be contented with a mere general and inclusive 
term. How indeed can it be otherwise, when we attempt to 
render the most copious language of the world, the most ad- 
mirable for the fineness of its distinctions into one of the poorest 
and most vague languages ? Especially when we reflect on 
the comparative number of the works, still extant, written 
while the Greek and Latin were Hving languages. Were I asked 
what I deemed the greatest and most unmixt benefit, which 
a wealthy individual, or an association of wealthy individuals, 
could bestow on their country and on mankind, I should not 
hesitate to answer, ' ' a philosophical English dictionary ; with 
the Greek, Latin, German, French, Spanish, and Italian syno- 
nymes, and with correspondent indexes." That the learned 
languages might thereby be acquired, better, in half the time, is 
but a part, and not the most important part, of the advantages 
which would accrue from such a work. O ! if it should be 
permitted by providence, that without detriment to freedom 
and independence our government might be enabled to become 
more than a committee for war and revenue ! There was 
a time, when every thing was to be done by Government. 
Have we not flown off to the contrary extreme ? 

i66 Bwgraphta Literaria ch, xii 

agents, on which none may intrude with impunity ; and 

now all a-glow, with colors not their own, they are gazed at 

as the splendid palaces of happiness and power. But in all 

ages there have been a few, who measuring and sounding 

the rivers of the vale at the feet of their furthest inaccessible 5 

falls have learned, that the sources must be far higher and 

far inward ; a few, who even in the level streams have de- 

tected elements, which neither the vale itself or the sur- 

rounding mountains contained or could supply. How and 

whence to these thoughts, these strong probabihties, the 10 

ascertaining vision, the intuitive knowledge may finally 

supervene, can be learnt only by the fact. I might oppose 

to the question the words with which * Plotinus supposes 

NATURE to answer a similar difficulty. " Should any one 

interrogate her, how she works, if graciously she vouchsafe 15 

to hsten and speak, she will reply, it behoves thee not to 

disquiet me with interrogatories, but to understand in silence 

even as I am silent, and work without words." 

Likewise in the fifth book of the fifth Ennead, speaking of 

the highest and intuitive knowledge as distinguished from 20 

the discursive, or in the language of Wordsworth, 

" The vision and the faculty divine ; " 

* Ennead, iii. 1. 8. c. 3. The force of the Greek a-vvuim is 
imperfectly expressed by " understand ; " our own idiomatic 
phrase " to go along with me " comes nearest to it. The passage, 
that follows, fuU of profound sense, appears to me evidently 
corrupt ; and in fact no writer more wants, better deserves, or 
is less likely to obtain, a new and more correct edition — ri oZv 
avvievai ; ori t6 yevo^evov fan deafxa i{x6v, ai.a>-nr]ais [mallem, 6(afjua, 
ffiov aiconoiarji), kuI (jti/ati yevofitvov Beaprifia, Kai fioi yevoixevrj (k dtatpias 
rrjs i)8\ Tf)v (f)vaiv exeiv (f>i\odedp.ova inrdpxfi- (mallem, Ka\ /xot 17 
ytvofievr) tK 6ea)pias avTrjs oi8\s) " what then are we to understand ? 
That whatever is produced is an intuition, I silent ; and that, 
which is thus generated, is by its nature a theorem, or form 
of contemplation ; and the birth, which results to me from 
tliis contemplation, attains to have a contemplative nature." 
So Synesius : 'flSly Upd, "ApprjTa yovd. The af ter comparison of the 
process of the natura naturans with that of the geometrician 
is drawn from the very heart of philosophy. 

cH. XII Biographia Literaria iS'] 

he says : "it is not lawful to enquire from whence it sprang, 
as if it were a thing subject to place and motion, for it nei- 
ther approached hither, nor again departs from hence to 
some other place ; but it either appears to us or it does not 

5 appear. So that we ought not to pursue it with a view of 
detecting its secret source, but to watch in quiet till it sud- 
denly shines upon us ; preparing ourselves for the blessed 
spectacle as the eye waits patiently for the rising sun." 
They and they only can acquire the philosophic imagination, 

lo the sacred power of self-intuition, who within themselves 
can interpret and understand the symbol, that the wings 
of the air-sylph are forming within the skin of the cater- 
pillar ; those only, who feel in their own spirits the same in- 
stinct, which impels the chrysahs of the horned fly to leave 

i^room in its involucrum for antennae yet to come. They 
know and feel, that the potential works in them, even as the 
adual works on them ! In short, all the organs of sense are 
framed for a corresponding world of sense ; and we have it. 
AU the organs of spirit are framed for a correspondent world 

2c of spirit : though the latter organs are not developed in all 
ahke. But they exist in all, and their first appearance dis- 
closes itself in the moral being. How else could it be, that 
even worldhngs, not wholly debased, will contemplate the 
man of simple and disinterested goodness with contradictory 

25 feehngs of pity and respect ? " Poor man ! he is not made 
for ^Ais world." Oh ! herein they utter a prophecy of uni- 
versal fulfilment ; -for man must either rise or sink. 

It is the essential mark of the true philosopher to rest 
satisfied with no imperfect light, as long as the impossibihty 

.^0 of attaining a fuller knowledge has not been demonstrated. 
That the common consciousness itself will furnish proofs by 
its own direction, that it is connected with master-currents 
below the surface, I shall merely assume as a postulate pro 
tempore. This having been granted, though but in expecta- 

35 tion of the arguraent, I can safely deduce from it thc equal 

i68 Biographia Literaria ch. xn 

truth of my former assertion, that philosophy cannot be in- 
telhgible to all, even of the most learned and cultivated 
classes. A system, the first principle of which it is to render 
the mind intuitive of the spiritual in man (i. e. of that which 
hes on the other side of our natural consciousness) must needs 5 
have a greater obscurity for those, who have never discip- 
hned and strengthened this ulterior consciousness. It must 
in truth be a land of darkness, a perfect Anti-Goshen, for 
men to whom the noblest treasures of their own being are 
reported only through the imperfect translation of hfeless 10 
and sightless notions. Perhaps, in great part, through 
words which are but the shadows of notions ; even as the 
notional understanding itself is but the shadowy abstraction 
of hving and actual truth. On the immediate, which 
dwells in every man, and on the original intuition, or abso- 15 
lute affirmation of it, (which is hkewise in every man, but 
does not in every man rise into consciousness) all the cer- 
tainty of our knowledge depends ; and this becomes intelh- 
gible to no man by the ministry of mere words from without. 
The medium, by which spirits understand each other, is 20 
not the surrounding air ; but the freedom which they possess 
in common, as the common ethereal element of their being, 
the tremulous reciprocations of which propagate themselves 
even to the inmost of the soul. Where the spirit of a man 
is not filled with the consciousness of freedom (were it only 25 
from its restlessness, as of one still strugghng in bondage) 
all spiritual intercourse is interrupted, not only with others, 
but even with himself. No wonder then, that he remains 
incomprehensible to himself as well as to others. No won- 
der, that, in the fearful desert of his consciousness, he .30 
wearies himself out with empty words, to which no friendly 
echo answers, either from his own heart, or the heart of 
a fellow being ; or bewilders himself in the pursuit of 
notional phantoms, the mere refractions from unseen and 
distant truths through the distorting medium of his own 35 

CH. XII Biographia Literaria 169 

unenlivened and stagnant understanding ! To remain un- 
intelligible to such a mind, exclaims Schelling on a hke 
occasion, is honor and a good name before God and man. 
The history of philosophy (the same writer observes) con- 

5 tains instances of systems, which for successive generations 
have remained enigmatic. Such he deems the system of 
Leibnitz, whom another writer (rashly I think, and invidi- 
ously) extols as the only philosopher, who was himself 
deeply convinced of his own doctrines. As hitherto inter- 

10 preted, however, they have not produced the effect, which 
Leibnitz himself, in a most instructive passage, describes as 
the criterion of a true philosophy ; namely, that it would at 
once explain and collect the fragments of truth scattered 
through systems apparently the most incongruous. The 

istruth, says he, is diffused more widely than is commonly 
beheved ; but it is often painted, yet oftener masked, and is 
sometimes mutilated and sometimes, alas ! in close alhance 
with mischievous errors. The deeper, however, we penetrate 
into the ground of things, the more truth we discover in the 

20 doctrines of the greater number of the philosophical sects. 
The want of suhstantial reahty in the objects of the senses, 
according to the sceptics ; the harmonies or numbers, the 
prototypes and ideas, to which the Pythagoreans and Pla- 
tonists reduced all things ; the one and all of Parmenides 

25 and Plotinus, without* Spinozism; the necessary connec- 
tion of things according to the Stoics, reconcileable with the 

* This is happily effected in three lines by Synesius, in his 
Fourth Hymn : 

'Ei/ Koi UuvTa — (taken by itself) is Spinostsm. 
*Ei/ 8' 'ATrai/Twi' — a mere anima Mundi. 
'Em re Trpo TTavTav — is mechanical Theism. 

But unite all three, and the result is the Theism of Saint 
Paul and Christianity. 

Synesius was censured for his doctrine of the Pre-existence 
of the Soul ; but ncver, that I can find, arraigned or deemed 

170 Bwgraphta Literaria ch. xn 

spontaneity of the other schools ; the vital-philosophy of 

the Cabahsts and Hermetists, who assumed the universaHty 

of sensation ; the substantial forms and entelechies of Aris- 

totle and the schoolmen, together with the mechanical 

solutionof allparticular phenomena according to Democritus 5 

and the recent philosophers — all these we shall find united 

in one perspective central point, which shows regularity and 

a coincidence of all the parts in the very object, which from 

every other point of view must appear confused and dis- 

torted. The spirit of sectarianism has been hitherto our 10 

fault, and the cause of our failures. We have imprisoned 

our own conceptions by the hnes, which we have drawn, in 

order to exclude the conceptions of others. J'ai trouve que 

la plupart des sectes ont raison dans une bonne partie de ce 

qu'elles avancent, mais non pas tant en ce qu'elles nient. 15 

A system, which aims to deduce the memory with all the 

heretical for liis Pantheism, tho' neither Giordano Bruno, or 
Jacob Behmen ever avowed it more broadly. 

Rlvoras 8e Ndor, 
Ta re Kai ra Xfyft» 
Bvdov apprjTov 

2l/ TO TiKTOV €(f)VS, 
2v t6 TlKTOflffOV' 
2ll t6 (pMTl^OV, 

2v t6 XaiiTTOnfvov' 
2i/ ro (f)aiv6fifvov, 
2i) t6 KpvnTOfxivov 

ibiais avyals. 

t^v Kai TravTa, 

Ev Kaff kavT6, 
Kai Sia TrdvTOiv. 

Pantheism is therefore not necessarily irreligious or heretical ; 
tho' it may be taught atheistically. Thus Spinoza would agree 
with Synesius in caUing God ^Cais iv ISofpols, the Nature in 
InteUigences ; but he could not subscribe to the preceding 
Noi'y Ka\ Nofpik, i. e. Himself IntelUgence and intelUgent. 

In this biographical sketch of my Uterary Ufe I may be ex- 
cused, if I mention here, that I had translated the eight Hymn 
of Synesius from the Greek into English Anacreontics before 
my ifth year. 

CH. XII Biographia Literaria 171 

other functions of intelligence, must of course place its first 
position from beyond the memory, and anterior to it, other- 
wise the principle of solution would be itself a part of the 
problem to be solved. Such a position therefore must in 
5 the first instance be demanded, and the first question will 
be, by what right is it demanded ? On this account I think 
it expedient to make some prehminary remarks on the intro- 
duction of Postulates in philosophy. The word postulate 
is borrowed from the science of mathematics. (See Schell. 

10 Abhandl. zur Erlauter. des Id. der Wissenschaftslehre.) In 
geometry the primary construction is not demonstrated, but 
postulated. This first and most simple construction in 
space is the point in motion, or the hne. Whether the point 
is moved in one and the same direction, or whether its 

15 direction is continually changed, remains as yet undeter- 
mined. But if the direction of the point have been deter- 
mined, it is either by a point without it, and then there 
arises the strait hne which incloses no space ; or the direc- 
tion of the point is not determined by a point without it, 

20 and then it must flow back again on itself, that is, there 
arises a cychcal hne, which does inclose a space. If the 
strait hne be assumed as the positive, the cychcal is then 
the negation of the strait. It is a hne, which at no point 
strikes out into the strait, but changes its direction con- 

25 tinuously. But if the primary hne be conceived as undeter- 
mined, and the strait hne as determined throughout, then 
the cychcal is the third compounded of both. It is at once 
undetermined and determined ; undetermined through any 
point without, and determined through itself. Geometry 

30 therefore supphes philosophy with the example of a primary 
intuition, from which every science that lays claim to m- 
dence must take its commencement. The mathematician 
does not begin with a demonstrable proposition, but with 
an intuition, a practical idea. 

35 But here an important distinction presents itself. Philo- 

172 Biographia Literaria ch. xh 

sophy is employed on objects of the inner sense, and 
cannot, like geometry, appropriate to every construction 
a correspondent outward intuition. Nevertheless, philo- 
sophy, if it is to arrive at evidence, must proceed from the 
most original construction, and the question then is, what 5 
is the most original construction or first productive act for 
the INNER SENSE. Thc answer to this question depends 
on the direction which is given to the inner sense. But in 
philosophy the inner sense cannot have its direction deter- 
mined by any outward object. To the original construction 10 
of the hne I can be compelled by a hne drawn before me 
on the slate or on sand. The stroke thus drawn is indeed 
not the hne itself, but only the image or picture of the hne. 
It is not from it, that we first learn to know the hne ; but, 
on the contrary, we bring this stroke to the original Hne 15 
generated by the act of the imagination ; otherwise we 
could not define it as without breadth or thickness. Still 
however this stroke is the sensuous image of the original or 
ideal hne, and an efficient mean to excite every imagination 
to the intuition of it. 20 

It is demanded then, whether there be found any means 
in philosophy to determine the direction of the inner sense, 
as in mathematics it is determinable by its specific image or 
outward picture. Now the inner sense has its direction 
determined for the greater part only by an act of freedom. 25 
One man's consciousness extends only to the pleasant or un- 
pleasant sensations caused in him by external impressions ; 
another enlarges his inner sense to a consciousness of forms 
and quantity ; a third in addition to the image is conscious 
of the conception or notion of the thing ; a fourth attains to 30 
a notion of his notions — he reflects on his own reflections ; 
and thus we may say without impropriety, that the one 
possesses more or less inner sense, than the other. This 
more or less betrays aheady, that philosophy in its first 
principles must have a practical or moral, as well as a theo- 35 

cH. xii Biographia Literaria 173 

retical or speculative side. This difference in degree does 
not exist in the mathematics. Socrates in Plato shows, that 
an ignorant slave may be brought to understand and of 
himself to solve the most difficult geometrical problem, 

6 Socrates drew the figures for the slave in the sand. The 
disciples of the critical philosophy could hkewise (as was 
indeed actually done by La Forge and some other followers 
of Des Cartes) represent the origin of our representations in 
copper-plates ; but no one has yet attempted it, and it 

10 would be utterly useless. To an Esquimaux or New Zea- 
lander our most popular philosophy would be wholly unin- 
telhgible. The sense, the inward organ for it, is not yet 
born in him. So is there many a one among us, yes, and some 
who think themselves philosophers too, to whom the philoso- 

15 phic organ is entirely wanting. To such a man philosophy 
is a mere play of words and notions, hke a theory of music to 
the deaf, or hke the geometry of hght to the bhnd. The con- 
nection of the parts and their logical dependencies may be 
seen and remembered ; but the whole is groundless and 

ao hollow, unsustained by hving contact, unaccompanied with 
any reahzing intuition which exists by and in the act that 
affirms its existence, which is known, because it is, and is, 
because it is known. The words of Plotinus, in the assumed 
person of nature, holds true of the philosophic energy. To 

25 ^cwpovv /Aou Oiwprjixa Troiet, uxnrfp ol yeco/x.eT/Dat 6€<j}povvT€<; ypd- 
(jiovatv' dXX Ijxov fx-r] ypa(povo"r]<;, Oeuipova-rjs Se, v^pLaravTaL al 

Tb)v o-w/xaTwv ypaix/xai.' With me the act of contemplation 
makes the thing contemplated, as the geometricians con- 
templating describe hnes correspondent ; but I not de- 

30 scribing hnes, but simply contemplating, the representative 
forms of things rise up into existence. 

The postulate of philosophy and at the same time the 
test of philosophic capacity, is no other than the heaven- 
descended know thyself ! {E ccelo descendit, TvwOi a-eav- 

35 Tov). And this at once practically and speculatively. For 

174 Biographia Liferaria ch, xn 

as philosophy is neither a science of the reason or under- 
standing only, nor merely a science of morals, but the science 
of BEING altogether, its primary ground can be neither mere- 
ly speculative or merely practical, but both in one. All 
knowledge rests on the coincidence of an object with a sub- 5 
ject. \(My readers have been warned in a former chapter 
that, for their convenience as well as the writer*s, the term, 
subject, is used by me in its scholastic sense as equivalent to 
mind or sentient being, and as the necessary correlative 
of object or qnicqnid ohjicitnr menti.) For we can know that 10 
only which is true : and the truth is universally placed in the 
coincidence of the thought with the thing, of the repre- 
sentation with the object represented. 

Now the sum of all that is merely objective we will 
henceforth call nature, confining the term to its passive and 15 
material sense, as comprising all the phaenomena by which 
its existence is made known to us. On the other hand the 
sum of all that is subjective, we may comprehend in the 
name of the self or intelligence. Both conceptions are 
in necessary antithesis. IntelHgence is conceived of as ex- 20 
clusively representative, nature as exclusively represented ; 
the one as conscious, the other as without consciousness. 
Now in all acts of positive knowledge there is required 
a reciprocal concurrence of both, namely of the conscious 
being, and of that which is in itself unconscious. Our prob- 25 
lem is to explain this concurrence, its possibihty and its 

During the act of knowledge itself, the objective and 
subjective are so instantly united, that we cannot determine 
to which of the two the priority belongs. There is here no 30 
first, and no second ; both are coinstantaneous and one. 
While I am attempting to explain this intimate coahtion, 
I must suppose it dissolved. I must necessarily set out from 
the one, to which therefore I give h^rpothetical antecedence, 
in order to arrive at the other. But as there are but two 35 

cH, xii Biographia Liferaria 175 

factors or elements in the problem, subject and object, and 
as it is left indeterminate from which of them I should com- 
mence, there are two cases equally possible. 


The notion of the subjective is not contained in the notion 
of the objective. On the contrary they mutually exclude 
each other. The subjective therefore must supervene to the 

10 objective. The conception of nature does not apparently 
involve the co-presence of an intelhgence making an ideal 
duphcate of it, i. e. representing it. This desk for in- 
stance would (according to our natural notions) be, though 
there should exist no sentient being to look at it. This then 

15 is the problem of natural philosophy. It assumes the 
objective or unconscious nature as the first, and has there- 
fore to explain how intelhgence can supervene to it, or how 
itself can grow into intelhgence. If it should appear, that 
all enhghtened naturahsts, without having distinctly pro- 

20 posed the problem to themselves, have yet constantly moved 
in the hne of its solution, it must afford a strong presumption 
that the problem itself is founded in nature. For if all know- 
ledge has as it were two poles reciprocally required and 
presupposed, all sciences must proceed from the one or the 

2-; other, and must tend toward the opposite as far as the equa- 
torial point in which both are reconciled and become iden- 
tical. The necessary lendence therefore of all natural philo- 
sophy is f rom nature to intelhgence ; and this, and no other, 
is the true ground and occasion of the instinctive striving 

30 to introduce theory into our views of natural phaenomena. 
The highest perfection of natural philosophy would consist 
in the perfect spirituahzation of all the laws of nature into 
laws of intuition and intellect. The phaenomena {the mate- 
rial) must whohy disappear, and the laws alone {the formal) 

35 must remain. Thence it comes, that in nature itself the 

176 Biographia Literaria ch. xh 

more the principle of law breaks forth, the more does the 
husk drop off, the phaenomena themselves become more 
spiritual and at length cease altogether in our consciousness. 
The optical phaenomena are but a geometry, the hnes of 
which are drawn by hght, and the materiahty of this hght 5 
itself has already become matter of doubt. In the appear- 
ances of magnetism all trace of matter is lost, and of the 
phaenomena of gravitation, which not a few among the most 
illustrious Newtonians have declared no otherwise compre- 
hensible than as an immediate spiritual influence, there 10 
remains nothing but its law, the execution of which on a 
vast scale is the mechanism of the heavenly motions. The 
theory of natural philosophy would then be completed, 
when all nature was demonstrated to be identical in essence 
with that, which in its highest known power exists in man as 1 5 
intelhgence and self-consciousness ; when the heavens and 
the earth shaU declare not only the power of their maker, 
but the glory and the presence of their God, even as he ap- 
peared to the great prophet during the vision of the mount 
in the skirts of his divinity. 20 

This may sufhce to show, that even natural science, which 
commences with the material phaenomenon as the reahty 
and substance of things existing, does yet by the necessity 
of theorizing unconsciously, and as it were instinctively, 
end in nature as an intelhgence ; and by this tendency the 25 
science of nature becomes finally natural philosophy, the one 
of the two poles of fundamental science. 

2. Or the subjective is taken as the first, and the 


In the pursuit of these sciences, our success in each 
depends on an austere and faithful adherence to its own 
principles, with a careful separation and exclusion of those, 
which appertain to the opposite science. As the natural 
philosopher, who directs his views to the objective, avoids 35 

CH. XII Biographia Literaria 177 

above all things the intermixture of the subjective in his 
knowledge, as for instance, arbitrary suppositions or rather 
suffictions, occult qualities, spiritual agents, and the substi- 
tution of final for efficient causes ; so on the other hand, the 
5 transcendental or intelhgential philosopher is equally anxious 
to preclude all interpellation of the objective into the subjec- 
tive principles of his science, as for instance the assumption 
of impresses or configurations in the brain, correspondent to 
miniature pictures on the retina painted by rays of hght 

10 from supposed originals, which are not the immediate and 
real objects of vision, but deductions from it for the pur- 
poses of explanation. This purification of the mind is 
effected by an absolute and scientific scepticism, to which 
the mind voluntarily determines itself for the specific pur- 

15 pose of future certainty. Des Cartes who (in his medita- 
tions) himself first, at least of the moderns, gave a beautiful 
example of tliis voluntary doubt, this self-determined inde- 
termination, happily expresses its utter difference from the 
scepticism of vanity or irreligion : Nec tamen in eo scepticos 

20 imitabar, qui dubitant tantum ut dubitent, et praeter incerti- 
tudinem ipsam nihil quaerunt. Nam contra totus in eo 
eram ut ahquid certi reperirem. Des Cartes, de Methodo. 
Nor is it less distinct in its motives and final aim, than in 
its proper objects, which are not as in ordinary scepticism 

25 the prejudices of education and circumstance, but those 

original and innate prejudices which nature herself has 

planted in all men; and which to all but the philosopher are 

the first principles of knowledge, and the final test of truth. 

Now these essential prejudices are all reducible to the one 

30 fundamental presumption, that there exist things with- 
OUT us. As this on the one hand originates, neither in 
grounds nor arguments, and yet on the other hand remains 
proof against all attempts to remove it by grounds or argu- 
ments {naturam furca expellas tamen usque redibit) ; 011 the 

35 one hand lays claim to immediate certainty as a position at 


178 Biographia Literaria ch. xn 

once indemonstrable and irresistible, and yet on the other 
hand, inasmuch as it refers to something essentially different 
from ourselves, nay even in opposition to ourselves, leaves 
it inconceivable how it could possibly become a part of our 
immediate consciousness (in other words how that, which 5 
ex hypothesi is and continues to be extrinsic and aUen to 
our being, should become a modification of our being) ; the 
philosopher therefore compels himself to treat this faith as 
nothing more than a prejudice, innate indeed and connatural, 
but still a prejudice. 10 

f^ The other position, which not only claims but necessitates 
the admission of its immediate certainty, equally for the 
scientific reason of the philosopher as for the common sense 
of mankind at large, namely, I am, cannot so properly be 
intitled a prejudice. It is groundless indeed ; but then in 15 
the very idea it precludes all ground, and separated from the 
immediate consciousness loses its whole sense and import. 
It is groundless ; but only because it is itself the ground of 
all other certainty. Now the apparent contradiction, that 
the former position, namely, the existence of things without ao 
us, which from its nature cannot be immediately certain, 
should be received as bhndly and as independently of all 
grounds as the existence of our own being, the transcen- 
dental philosopher can solve only by the supposition, that 
the former is unconsciously involved in the latter ; that it is 25 
not only coherent but identical, and one and the same thing 
with our own immediate self-consciousness. To demon- 
strate this identity is the office and object of his philosophy. 
If it be said, that this is Ideahsm, let it be remembered 
that it is only so far ideahsm, as it is at the same time, and 30 
on that very account, the truest and most binding realism. 
For wherein does the reahsm of mankind properly consist ? 
In the assertion that there exists a something without them, 
what, or how, or where they know not, which occasions the 
objects of their perception ? Oh no ! This is neither con- 35 

CH. XII Biographia Literaria 179 

natural nor universal. It is what a few have taught and 
learned in the schools, and which the many repeat without 
asking themselves concerning their own meaning. The 
reahsm common to all mankind is far elder and hes infinitely 
5 deeper than this hypothetical explanation of the origin of our 
perceptions, an explanation skimmed from the mere surface 
of mechanical philosophy. It is the table itself, which the 
man of common sense beheves himself to see, not the phan- 
tom of a table, from which he may argumentatively deduce 

10 the reahty of a table, which he does not see. If to destroy 
the reality of all, that we actually behold, be ideahsm, what 
can be more egregiously so, than the system of modern meta- 
physics, which banishes us to a land of shadows, surrounds 
us with apparitions, and distinguishes truth from illusion 

15 only by the majority of those who dream the same dream ? 
" / asserted that the world was mad," exclaimed poor Lee, 
" and the world said, that I was mad, and confound them, 
they outvoted me." 

It is to the true and original reahsm, that I would direct 

20 the attention. This believes and requires neither more nor 
less, than the.object which it beholds or presents to itself, is 
the real and very object. In this sense, however much we 
may strive against it, we are all collectively born ideahsts, 
and therefore and only therefore are we at the same time 

35 reahsts. But of this the philosophers of the schools know 
nothing, or despise the faith as the prejudice of the ignorant 
vulgar, because they live and move in a crowd of phrases 
and notions f rom which human nature has long ago vanished. 
Oh, ye that reverence yourselves, and walk humbly with the 

30 divinity in your own hearts, ye are worthy of a better philo- 
sophy ! Let the dead bury the dead, but do you preserve 
your human nature, the depth of which was never yet 
fathomed by a philosophy made up of notions and mere 
logical entities. 

35 In the third treatise of my Logosophia, announced at the 


i8o Biographia Literaria ch. xn 

end of this volume, I shall give (deo volente) the demonstra- 
tions and constructions of the Dynamic Philosophy scienti- 
fically arranged. It is, according to my conviction, no other 
than the system of Pythagoras and of Plato revived and 
purified from impure mixtures. Doctrina per tot manus 5 
tradita tandem in Vappam desiit. The science of arithmetic 
furnishes instances, that a rule may be useful in practical ap- 
plication, and for the particular purpose may be sufiiciently 
authenticated by the result, before it has itself been fully 
demonstrated. It is enough, if only it be rendered intelli- 10 
gible. This will, I trust, have been effected in the foUowing 
Theses for those of my readers, who are willing to accompany 
me through the following Chapter, in which the results will 
be apphed to the deduction of the Imagination, and with it 
theprinciples of production and of genial criticism inthefine 15 

Thesis I. 
Truth is correlative to being. Knowledge without a cor- 
respondent reahty is no knowledge ; if we know, there must 
be somewhat known by us. To know is in its very essence 
a verb active. 20 

Thesis II. 

All truth is either mediate, that is, derived from some 
other truth or truths ; or immediate and original. The lat- 
ter is absolute, and its formula A. A. ; the former is of de- 
pendent or conditional certainty, and represented in the 25 
formula B. A. The certainty, which adheres in A, is attri- 
butable to B. 

ScHOLiUM. A chain without a staple, from which all the 
hnks derived their stability, or a series without a first, has 
been not inaptly allegorized, as a string of bhnd men, each 3° 
holding the skirt of the man before him, reaching far out of 
sight, but all moving without the least deviation in one 
strait line. Itwould be naturally taken for granted, that 

CH. XII Biographia Literaria r8i 

there was a guide at the head of the file : what if it were an- 
swered, No ! Sir, the men are without number, and infinite 
bhndness supphes the place of sight ? 

Equally inconceivable is a cycle of equal truths without 
5 a common and central principle, which prescribes to each 
its proper sphere in the system of science. That the absur- 
dity does not so immediately strike us, that it does not seem 
equally unimaginahle, is owing to a surreptitious act of the 
imagination, which, instinctively and without our noticing 

lo the same, not only fills up the intervening spaces, and con- 
templates the cycle (of B. C. D. E. F. &c.) as a continuous 
circle (A.) giving to aU collectively the unity of their common 
orbit ; but hkewise supphes, by a sort of suhintelligitur, 
the one central power, which renders the movement harmo- 

1«; nious and cychcal. 

Thesis III. 

We are to seek therefore for some absolute truth capable of 

communicating to other positions a certainty, which it has 

not itself borrowed ; a truth self-grounded, unconditional and 

known by its own hght. In short, we have to find a some- 

20 what which is, simply because it is. In order to be such, it 
must be one which is its own predicate, so far at least that all 
other nominal predicates must be modes and repetitions of 
itself. Its existence too must be such, as to preclude the 
possibihty of requiring a cause or antecedent without an 

^b absurdity. 

Thesis IV. 

That there can be but one such principle, may be proved 
a priori ; for were there two or more, each must refer to 
some other, by which its equahty is affirmed ; consequently 
neither would be self-estabhshed, as the hypothesis demands. 
.^o And a posteiiori, it will be proved by the principle itself 
when it is discovered, as involving universal antecedents in 
its very conception. 

i82 Biographia Literaria ch. xn 

ScHOLiUM. If we affirm of a board that it is blue, the 
predicate (blue) is accidental, and not imphed in the subject, 
board. If we affirm of a circle that it is equi-radial, the pre- 
dicate indeed is imphed in the definition of the subject ; but 
the existence of the subject itself is contingent, and supposes 5 
both a cause and a percipient. The same reasoning will 
apply to the indefinite number of supposed indemonstrable 
truths exempted from the prophane approach of philosophic 
investigation by the amiable Beattie, and other less eloquent 
and not more profound inaugurators of common sense on 10 
the throne of philosophy ; a fruitless attempt, were it only 
that it is the two-fold function of philosophy to reconcile 
reason with common sense, and to elevate common sense 
into reason. 

Thesis V. 

Such a principle cannot be any thing or object. Each 15 
thing is what it is in consequence of some other thing. An 
infinite, independent * thing, is no less a contradiction, than 
an infinite circle or a sideless triangle. Besides a thing is 
that, which is capable of being an object of which itself is 
not the sole percipient. But an object is inconceivable 2° 
without a subject as its antithesis. Omne perceptum per- 
cipientem supponit. 

But neither can the principle be found in a subject as a 
subject, contra-distinguished from an object : for unicuique 
percipienti ahquid objicitur perceptum. It is to be found 25 
therefore neither in object nor subject taken separately, and 
consequently, as no other third is conceivable, it must be 
found in that which is neither subject nor object exclusively, 
but which is the identity of both. 

* The impossibility of an absolute thing (substantia unica) as 
neither genus, species, nor individuum : as well as its utter 
unfitness for the fundamental position of a philosophic system, 
will be demonstrated in the critique on Spinozism in the fifth 
treatise bf my Logosophia. 

cH. XII Biographia Literaria 183 

Thesis VI. 

This principle, and so characterised, manifests itself in the 

SuM or I AM ; which I shall hereafter indiscriminately 

express by the words spirit, self, and self-consciousness. In 

this, and in this alone, object and subject, being and know- 

5 ing are identical, each involving, and supposing the other. 
In other words, it is a subject which becomes a subject by 
the act of constructing itself objectively to itself ; but which 
never is an object except for itself, and only so far as by the 
very same act it becomes a subject. It may be described 

10 therefore as a perpetual self-dupHcation of one and the same 
power into object and subject, which presuppose each other, 
and can exist only as antitheses. 

ScHOLiUM, If a man be asked how he knows that he is ? 
he can only answer, sum quia sum. But if (the absoluteness 

i? of this certainty having been admitted) he be again asked, 
how he, the individual person, came to be, then in relation 
to the ground of his existence, not to the ground of his know- 
ledge of that existence, he might reply, sum quia Deus est, or 
still more philosophically, sum quia in Deo sum. 

20 But if we elevate our conception to the absolute self, the 
great eternal I am, then the principle of being, and of know- 
ledge, of idea, and of reahty ; the ground of existence, and 
the ground of the knowledge of existence, are absolutely 
identical, Sum quia sum ; * I am, because I afhrm myself to 

2.^ be ; I affirm myseif to be, because I am. 

* It is most worthy of notice, that in the first revelation of 
himself, not confined to individuals ; indeed in the very first 
revelation of his absolute being, Jehovah at the same time 
revealed the fundamental truth of all philosophy, which must 
either commence with the absolute, or have no fixed commence- 
ment ; that is, cease to be philosophy. I cannot but express 
my regret, that in the equivocal use of the word that, for in 
that, or because, our admirable version has rendered the 
passage susceptible of a degraded interpretation in the mind 
of common readers or hearers, as if it were a mere reproof to 

184 ' Biographia Literaria ch. xh 

Thesis VII. 
If then I know myself only through myself, it is con- 
tradictory to require any other predicate of self, but that of 
self-consciousness. Only in the self-consciousness of a spirit 
is there the required identity of object and of representa- 
tion ; for herein consists the essence of a spirit, that it is 5 
self-representative. If therefore this be the one only imme- 
diate truth, in the certainty of which the reahty of our 
collective knowledge is grounded, it must follow that the 
spirit in all the objects which it views, views only itself. If 
this could be proved, the immediate reahty of all intuitive 10 
knowledge would be assured. It has been shown, that a 
spirit is that, which is its own object, yet not originally an 
object, but an absolute subject for which all, itself included, 
may become an object. It must therefore be an act ; for 

an impertinent question, I am what I am, which might be 
equally affirmed of himself by any existent being. 

The Cartesian Cogito, ergo sum is objectionable, because 
either the Cogito is used extra Gradum, and then it is involved 
in the sum and is tautological ; or it is taken as a particular 
mode or dignity, and then it is subordinated to the sum as the 
species to the genus, or rather as a particular modification to 
the subject modified ; 'and not pre-ordinated as the arguments 
seem to require. For Cogito is Sum Cogitans. This is clear 
by the inevidence of the converse. Cogitat, ergo est is true, 
because it is a mere appHcation of the logical rule : Quicquid 
in genere est, est et in specie. Est (cogitans), ergo est. It is 
a cherry tree ; therefore it is a tree. But, est ergo cogitat, is 
illogical : for quod est in specie, non necessario in genere est. 
It may be true — I hold it to be true, that quicquid vere est, 
est per veram sui affirmationem ; but it is a derivative, not an 
immediate truth. Here then we have, by anticipation, the 
distinction between the conditional finite I (which, as known 
in distinct consciousness by occasion of experience, is called by 
Kanfs followers the empirical I) and the absolute I am, and 
hkewise the dependence or rather the inherence of the former 
in the latter ; in whom " we hve, and move, and have our 
being," as St. Paul divinely asserts, differing widely from the 
Theists of the mechanic school (as Sir J. Newton, Locke, &c.) 
who must say from ivhom we had our being, and with it life and 
the powers of hfe. 

cH. XII Biographia Literaria 185 

every object is, as an ohiect, dead, fixed, incapable in itself of 
any action, and necessarily finite. Again the spirit (origin- 
ally the identity of object and subject) must in some sense 
dissolve this identity, in order to be conscious of it : fit 
alter et idem. But this imphes an act, and it foUows there- 
^ fore that intelhgence or self-consciousness is impossible, 
except by and in a will. The self-conscious spirit therefore 
is a will ; and freedom must be assumed as a grotmd of 
philosophy, and can never be deduced from it. 

Thesis VIII. 

'° Whatever in its origin is objective, is hkewise as such 
necessarily finite. Therefore, since the spirit is not origin- 
ally an object, and as the subject exists in antithesis to an 
object, the spirit cannot originally be finite. But neither 
canit be a subject without becoming an object, and, as it is 

•5 originally the identity of both, it can be conceived neither 
as infinite nor finite exclusively, but as the most original 
union of both. In the existence, in the reconcihng, and the 
recurrence of this contradiction consists the process and 
mystery of production and hfe. 

Thesis IX. 

20 This principium commune essendi et cognoscendi, as 
subsisting in a vvill, or primary act of self-duphcation, is 
the mediate or indirect principle of every science ; but it is the 
immediate and direct principle of the ultimate science alone, 
i.e. of transcendental philosophy alone. For it must be 

25 remembered, that all these Theses refer solely to one of the 
two Polar Sciences, namely, to that which commences with, 
and rigidly confines itself within, the subjective, leaving the 
objective (as far as it is exclusively objective) to natural 
philosophy, which is its opposite pole. In its very idea there- 

?,o fore as a systematic knowledge of our collective knowing, 
(scientia scientiae) it involves the necessity of some one 

i86 Biographia Literaria ch. xh 

highest principle of knowing, as at once the source and 
accompanying form in all particular acts of intellect and 
perception. This, it has been shown, can be found only in 
the act and evolution of self-consciousness. We are not in- 
vestigating an absolute principium essendi ; for then, I 5 
admit, many vahd objections might be started against our 
theory ; but an absolute principium cognoscendi. The 
result of both the sciences, or their equatorial point, would 
be the principle of a total and undivided philosophy, as, 
for prudential reasons, I have chosen to anticipate in the 10 
Schohum to Thesis VI. and the note subjoined. In other 
words, philosophy would pass into rehgion, and rehgion 
become inclusive of philosophy. We begin with the I know 
MYSELF, in order to end with the absolute I am. We pro- 
ceed from the self, in order to lose and find all self in God. i 5 

Thesis X. 

The transcendental philosopher does not inquire, what 
ultimate ground of our knowledge there may He out of our 
knowing, but what is the last in our knowing itself, beyond 
which we cannot pass. The principle of our knowing is 
sought within the sphere of our knowing. It must be some- 20 
thing therefore, which can itself be known. It is asserted 
only, that the act of self-consciousness is for ws the source 
and principle of all ouv possible knowledge. Whether 
abstracted from us there exists any thing higher and beyond 
this primary self-knowing, which is for us the form of all our 25 
knowing, must be decided by the result. 

That the self-consciousness is the fixt point, to which for 
us all is morticed and annexed, needs no further proof . But 
that the self-consciousness may be the modification of a 
higher form of being, perhaps of a higher consciousness, and 3° 
this again of a yet higher, and so on in an infinite regressus ; 
in short, that self-consciousness may be itself something 
exphcable into something, which must he beyond^^the 

CH. XII Biographia Literaria 187 

possibility of our knowledge, because the whole synthesis 
of our intelligence is first formed in and through the self- 
consciousness, does not at all concern us as transcendental 
philosophers. For to us, self-consciousness is not a kind 

5 of heing, but a kind of knowing, and that too the highest 
and farthest that exists for us. It may however be shown, 
and has in part already been shown in pages 175-176, that 
even when the Objective is assumed as the first, we yet 
can never pass beyond the principle of self-consciousness. 

10 Should we attempt it, we must be driven back from ground 
to ground, each of which would cease to be a Ground the 
moment we pressed on it. We must be whirFd down the 
gulf of an infinite series. But this would make our reason 
baffie the end and purpose of all reason, namely, unity and 

1 5 system. Or we must break of¥ the series arbitrarily, and 
aflirm an absolute something that is in and of itself at once 
cause and effect {causa sui), subject and object, or rather the 
absolute identity of both. But as this is inconceivable, 
except in a self-consciousness, it follows, that even as 

20 natural philosophers we must arrive at the same principle 
from which as transcendental philosophers we set out ; that 
is, in a self-consciousness in which the principium essendi 
does not stand to the principium cognoscendi in the relation 
of cause to effect, but both the one and the other are co- 

2.») inherent and identical. Thus the true system of natural 
philosophy places the sole reahty of things in an absolute, 
which is at once causa sui et effectus, 7raT>/p avToird.Twp, vlo<; 
iavTov — in the absolute identity of subject and object, which 
it calls nature, and which in its highest power is nothing else 

.^0 than self-conscious will or intelhgence. In this sense the 
position of Malbranche, that we see all things in God, is a 
strict philosophical truth ; and equally true is the assertion 
of Hobbs, of Hartley, and of their masters in ancient Greece, 
that all real knowledge supposes a prior sensation. For 

•^5 sensation itself is but vision nascent, not the cause of intelh- 

i88 Biographia Literaria ch. xu 

gence, but intelligence itself revealed as an earlier power in 
the process of self-construction. 

MttKap, iXaOi /xoi' 

TidTep, XXaOi fxoi 

Et Trapa Koa-fiov, 5 

Ei irapa /xotpav 

Twv crtov eOiyov ! 

Bearing then this in mind, that intelligence is a self- 
developement, not a quahty supervening to a substance, we 
may abstract from all degree, and for the purpose of philo- lo 
sophic construction reduce it to kind, under the idea of an 
indestructible power with two opposite and counteracting 
forces, which by a metaphor borrowed from astronomy, we 
may call the centrifugal and centripetal forces. The in- 
telhgence in the one tends to objectize itself, and in the other 15 
to know itself in the object. It will be hereafter my busi- 
ness to construct by a series of intuitions the progressive 
schemes, that must foUow from such a power with such 
forces, till I arrive at the fulness of the human intelligence. 
For my present purpose, I assume such a power as my princi- 20 
ple, in order to deduce from it a faculty, the generation, 
agency, and apphcation of which form the contents of the 
ensuing chapter. 

In a preceding page I have justified the use of technical 
terms in philosophy, whenever they tend to preclude confu- 25 
sion of thought, and when they assist the memory by the 
exclusive singleness of their meaning more than they may, 
for a short time, bewilder the attention by their strangeness. 
I trust, that I have not extended this privilege beyond the 
grounds on which I have claimed it ; namely, the con- ?>o 
veniency of the scholastic phrase to distinguish the kind 
from all degrees, or rather to express the kind with the ab- 
straction of degree, as for instance multeity instead of 
multitude ; or secondly, for the sake of correspondence in 
sound in interdependent or antithetical terms, as subject 35 

CH. XII Biographia Literaria 189 

and object ; or lastly, to avoid the wearying recurrence of 
circumlocutions and definitions. Thus I shall venture to 
use potence, in order to express a specific degree of a power, 
in imitation of the Algebraists. I have even hazarded the 
5 new verb potenziate, with its derivatives, in order to express 
the combination or transfer of powers. It is with new of 
unusual terms, as with privileges in courts of justice or 
legislature ; there can be no legitimate privilege, where there 
already exists a positive law adequate to the purpose ; and 

10 when there is no law in existence, the privilege is to be 
justified by its accordance with the end, or final cause, of all 
law. Unusual and new coined words are doubtless an evil ; 
but vagueness, confusion, and imperfect conveyance of our 
thoughts, are a far greater. Every system, which is under 

15 the necessity of using terms not famiharized by the meta- 
physicks in fashion, will be described as written in an unin- 
teUigible style, and the author must expect the charge of 
having substituted learned jargon for clear conception ; 
while, according to the creed of our modern philosophers, 

20 nothing is deemed a clear conception, but what is represent- 
able by a distinct image. Thus the conceivable is reduced 
within the bounds of the pictiirahle. Hinc patet, qui fiat, 
ut cum irreprcesentahile et impossibile vulgo ejusdem signifi- 
catus habeantur, conceptus tam Continui, quam Infmiti, a 

25 plurimis rejiciantur, quippe quorum, secundmn leges cogni- 
tionis intiiitivcB, reprsesentatio est impossibihs. Quanquam 
autem harum e non paucis schohs explosarum notionum, 
praesertim prioris, causam hic non gero, maximi tamen 
momenti erit monuisse : gravissimo illo errore labi, qui tam 

3operversa argumentandi ratione utuntur. Quicquid enim 
yg/)wgwflnegibusintellectuset rationis, utique est impossibile ; 
quod autem, cum rationis purae sit objectum, legibus cogni- 
tionis intuitivae tantummodo non suhest, non item. Nam 
hic dissensus inter facultatem sensitivam et intellectualem, 

35 (quarum indolem mox exponam,) nihil indigitat, nisi, quas 

igo Biographia Literaria ch. xh 

mens ab intellectu acceptas fert ideas abstractas, illas in con- 
creto exsequi et in Intuitus commutare sapenumero non posse. 
Haec autem reluctantia subjectiva mentitur, ut plurimum, 
repugnantiam aliquam objectivam, et incautos facile fallit, 
limitibus, quibus mens humana circumscribitur, pro iis 5 
habitis, quibus ipsa rerum essentia continetur.* — Kant, 
de Mundi Sensibilis et Intelligibilis forma et principiis, 1770. 
Critics, who are most ready to bring this charge of pedantry 
and unintelHgibihty, are the most apt to overlook the im- 

* Translation. 

" Hence it is clear, from what cause many reject the notion 
of the continuous and the infiinite. They take, namely, the 
words irrepresentable and impossible in one and the same 
meaning ; and, according to the forms of sensuous evidence, 
the notion of the continuous and the infinite is doubtless im- 
possible. I am not now pleading the cause of these laws, which 
not a few schools have thought proper to explode, especially 
the former (the law of continuity). But it is of the highest 
importance to admonish the reader, that those, who adopt so 
perverted a mode of reasoning, are under a grievous error. 
Whatever opposes the formal principles of the understanding 
and the reason is confessedly impossible ; but not therefore 
that, which is therefore not amenable to the forms of sensuous 
evidence, because it is exclusively an object of pure intellect. 
For this non-coincidence of the sensuous and the intellectual 
(the nature of which I shall presently lay open) proves nothing 
more, but that the mind cannot always adequately represent 
in the concrete, and transform into distinct images, abstract 
notions derived from the pure intellect. But this contradiction, 
which is in itself merely subjective (i. e. an incapacity in the 
nature of man), too often passes for an incongruity or impossi- 
bility in the object (i. e. the notions themselves), and seduces 
the incautious to mistake the limitations of the human faculties 
for the limits of things, as they really exist." 

I take this occasion to observe, that here and elsewhere Kant 
uses the term intuition, and the verb active (Intueri, germanice 
Auschauen) for which we have unfortunately no correspondent 
word, exclusively for that which can be represented in space 
and time. He therefore consistently and rightly denies the 
possibility of intellectual intuitions. But as I see no adequate 
reason for this exclusive sense of the term, I have reverted to 
its wider signification, authorized by our elder theologians and 
metaphysicians, according to whom the term comprehends all 
truths known to us without a medium. 

cH. xit Biographia Literaria 191 

portant fact, that, besides the language of words, there is a 
language of spirits (sermo interior) and that the former is 
only the vehicle of the latter. Consequently their assur- 
ance, that they do not understand the philosophic writer, 
5 instead of proving any thing against the philosophy, may 
furnish an equal, and (caeteris paribus) even a stronger 
presumption against their own philosophic talent. 

Great indeed are the obstacles which an Enghsh meta- 
physician has to encounter. Amongst his most respectable 

10 and intelhgent judges, there will be many who have devoted 
their attention exclusively to the concerns and interests of 
human Hfe, and who bring with them to the perusal of a 
philosophic system an habitual aversion to all speculations, 
the utihty and apphcation of which are not evident and 

15 immediate. To these I would in the first instance merely 

oppose an authority, which they themselves hold venerable, 

that of Lord Bacon : non inutiles scientise existimandae sunt, 

quarum in se nullus est usus, si ingenia acuant et ordinent. 

There are others, whose prejudices are still more formid- 

20 able, inasmuch as they are grounded in their moral feehngs 
and rehgious principles, which had been alarmed and shocked 
by the impious and pernicious tenets defended by Hume, 
Priestley, and the French fatahsts or necessitarians ; some 
of whom had perverted metaphysical reasonings to the denial 

25 of the mysteries and indeed of all the pecuhar doctrines of 
Christianity ; and others even to the subversion of all dis- 
tinction between right and wrong. I would request such 
men to consider what an eminent and successful defender of 
the Christian faith has observed, that true metaphysics are 

.^0 nothing else but true divinity, and that in fact the writers, 
who have given them such just offence, were sophists, who 
had taken advantage of the general neglect into which the 
science of logic has unhappily fallen, rather than meta- 
physicians, a name indeed which those writers were the 

35 first to explode as unmeaning. Secondly, I would remind 

192 Biographia Literaria ch. xh 

them, that as long as there are men in the world to whom the 
VvC}6i o-eauToV is an instinct and a command from their 
own nature, so long will there be metaphysicians and meta- 
physical speculations ; that false metaphysics can be effec- 
tually counteracted by true metaphysics alone ; and that 5 
if the reasoning be clear, sohd, and pertinent, the truth 
deduced can never be the less valuable on account of the 
depth from which it may have been drawn. 

A third class profess themselves friendly to metaphysics, 
and beheve that they are themselves metaphysicians. They 1 o 
have no objection to system or terminology, provided it be 
the method and the nomenclature to which they have been 
famiharized in the writings of Locke, Hume, Hartley, 
Condillac, or perhaps Dr. Reid, and Professor Stewart. To 
objections from this cause, it is a sufiicient answer, that one 15 
main object of my attempt was to demonstrate the vague- 
ness or insufficiency of the terms used in the metaphysical 
schools of France and Great Britain since the revolution, 
and that the errors which I propose to attack cannot subsist, 
except as they are concealed behind the mask of a plausible 20 
and indefinite nomenclature. 

But the worst and widest impediment still remains. It 
is the predominance of a popular philosophy, at once the 
counterfeit and the mortal enemy of all true and manly 
metaphysical research. It is that corruption, introduced by 25 
certain immethodical aphorisming Eclectics, who, dis- 
missing not only all system, but all logical connection, pick 
and choose whatever is most plausible and showy ; who 
select, whatever words can have some semblance of sense 
attached to them without the least expenditure of thought ; 3° 
in short whatever may enable men to talk of what they 
do not understand, with a careful avoidance of every thing 
that might awaken them to a momenfs suspicion of their 
ignorance. This alas ! is an irremediable disease, for it 
brings with it, not so much an indisposition to any par- 35 

CH. XII Biogvaphia Literaria 193 

ticular system, but an utter loss of taste and faculty for all 
system and for all philosophy. Like echoes that beget each 
other amongst the mountains, the praise or blame of such 
men roUs in vollies long after the report from the original 

5 blunderbuss. Sequacitas est potius et coitio quam consensus: 
et tamen (quod pessimum est) pusillanimitas ista non sine 
arrogantia et fastidio se offert. Novum Organum. 

I shall now proceed to the nature and genesis of the 
imagination ; but I must first take leave to notice, that af ter 

10 a more accurate perusal of Mr. Wordsworth's remarks on 
the imagination, in his preface to the new edition of his 
poems, I find that my conclusions are not so consentient 
with his as, I confess, I had taken for granted. In an 
article contributed by me to Mr. Southey's Omniana, cn 

16 the soul and its organs of sense, are the following sentences. 
" These (the human faculties) I would arrange under the 
different senses and powers : as the eye, the ear, the touch, 
&c. ; the imitative power, voluntary and automatic ; the 
imagination, or shaping and modifying power ; the fancy, 

20 or the aggregative and associative power ; the under- 
standing, or the regulative, substantiating and reahzing 
power ; the speculative reason, vis theoretica et scientifica, 
or the power by which we produce or aim to produce unity, 
necessity, and universahty in all our knowledge by means of 

2? principles a priori ; * the will, or practical reason ; the 
faculty of choice {Germanice, Willkiir) and (distinct both 

* This phrase, a priori, is in common, most grossly misunder- 
stood, and an absurdity burdened on it, which it does not 
deserve. By knowledge, a priori, we do not mean, that we 
can know anything previously to experience, which would 
be a contradiction in terms ; but that having once known it 
by occasion of experience (that is, something acting upon us 
from without) we then know, that it must have pre-existed, or 
the experience itself would have been impossible. By ex- 
perience only I know, that I have eyes ; but then my reason 
convinces me, that I must have had eyes in order to the 


194 Biographia Literaria ch. xn 

from the moral will and the choice.) the sensation of vohtion, 
which I have found reason to include under the head of 
single and double touch." To this, as far as it relates to the 
subject in question, namely the words {the aggregative and 
associative power) Mr. Wordsworth's " only objection is that 5 
the definition is too general. To aggregate and to associate, 
to evoke and to combine, belong as well to the imagination as 
to the fancy." I reply, that if, by the power of evoking and 
combining, Mr. Wordsworth means the same as, and no more 
than, I meant by the aggregative and associative, I continue 10 
to deny, that it belongs at all to the imagination ; and 
I am disposed to conjecture, that he has mistaken the co- 
presence of fancy with imagination for the operation of 
the latter singly. A man may work with two very different 
tools at the same moment ; each has its share in the work. 15 
but the work effected by each is distinct and different. But 
it will probably appear in the next Chapter, that deeming 
it necessary to go back much further than Mr. Wordsworth's 
subject required or permitted, I have attached a meaning 
to both fancy and imagination, which he had not in view, 20 
at least while he was writing that preface. He will judge. 
Would to Heaven, I might meet with many such readers. 
I will conclude with the words of Bishop Jeremy Taylor : he 
to whom all things are one, who draweth all things to one, 
and seeth all things in one, may enjoy true peace and rest of 25 
spirit. (/. Taylor's Via Pacis). 

CH. XIII Biographia Liieraria 


On the imagination, or esemplastic power. 

O Adam, One Almighty is, from whom 

AU things proceed, and up to him return, 

If not depraved from good: created all 

Such to perfection, one first nature all, 

Indued with various forms, various degrees 

Of substance, and, in things that hve, of hfe ; 

But more refin'd, more spirituous and pure, 

As nearer to him plac'd, or nearer tending, 

Each in their several active spheres assignd, 

Till body up to spirit work, in bounds 

Proportion'd to each kind. So from the root 

Springs hghter the green stalk, from thence the leaves 

]\Iore airy : last the bright consummate fiower 

Spirits odorous breathes. Flowers and their fruit, 

Man's nourishment, by gradual scale subhm'd, 

To vital spirits aspire : to animal : 

To intellectual ! — give both hfe and sense, 

Fancy and understanding ; wlience the soul 

Reason receives, and reason is her being, 

Discursive or intuitive. Par. Lost, b. V. 

"Sane si res corporales nil nisi materiale continerent, verissime 
dicerentur in fiuxu consistere neque habere substantiale quic- 
quam, quemadmodum et Platonici oUm recte agnovere. — Hinc 
igitur, praeter pure mathematica et phantasise subjecta, 
coUegi quaedam metaphysica solaque mente perceptibilia, esse 
admittenda : et massae materiaU principiiim quoddam superius 
et, ut sic dicam, formale addendum : quandoquidem omnes 
veritates rerum corporearum ex solis axiomatibus logisticis et 
geometricis, nempe de magno et parvo, toto et parte, figura et 
situ, colUgi non possint ; sed alia de causa et effectu, actioneqne 
et passione, accedqre debeant, quibus ordinis rerum rationes 
salventur. Id principium rerum, an ivrfX^xii-av an ^dm appel- 
lemus, non refert, modo meminerimus, per solam Virium notio» 
nem intelUgibiliter explicari." 

Leibkitz: Op. T. II. P. II. p. 53— T. III. p. 321. 

^e^ofiai Nofpwi/ 

Kpvcpiav rd^iV 

Xwpa TI ME20N 

Ov Karaxvdfv. Sykesii Hymn. III. l. 2^1. 

Des Cartes, speaking as a naturalist, and in imitation of 
Archimedes, said, give me matter and motion and I will con- 



Biogmphia Literaria ch. xm 

struct you the universe. We must of course understand 
- him to have meant : I will render the construction of the 
Huniverse intelhgible. In the same sense the transcendental 
.y^ : philosopher says ; grant me a nature having two contrary 
^ forces, the one of which tends to expand infinitely, while the 5 
; other strives to apprehend or jini itself in this infinity, and 
/ I will cause the world of intelhgences with the whole system 
of their representations to rise up before you. Every other 
science presupposes inteDigence as already existing and 
complete : the philosopher contemplates it in its growth, 10 
and as it were represents its history to the mind from its 
birth to its maturity. 

The venerable Sage of Koenigsberg has preceded the 
march of this master-thought as an effective pioneer in his 
essay on the introduction of negative quantities into philo- 1 5 
sophy, pubhshed 1763. In this he has shown, that instead 
of assaihng the science of mathematics by metaphysics, as 
Berkeley did in his Analyst, or of sophisticating it, as Wolf 
did, by the vain attempt of deducing the first principles of 
geometry from supposed deeper grounds of ontology, it 20 
behoved the metaphysician rather to examine whether the 
only province of knowledge, which man has succeeded in 
erecting into a pure science, might not furnish materials, 
or at least hints, for estabhshing and pacifying the unsettled, 
warring, and embroiled domain of philosophy. An imitation 25 
of the mathematical method had indeed beenattempted with 
no hf^ttpr mirrpgis thar) a ftpndpd tbp p- .qsay nf Dayid~f O wear 
the armour of Saul. Another use however is possible and 
of far greater promise, namely, the actual appUcation of the 
positions which had so wonderfully enlarged the discoveries 30 
of geometry, mutatis mutandis, to philosophical subjects. 
Kant having briefiy illustrated the utility of such an attempt 
in the questions of space, motion, and infinitely small 
quantities, as employed by the mathematician, proceeds to 
the idea of negative quantities and the transfer of them to 35 

CH. XIII Biographia Literaria G^T^ 

metaphysical investigation. Opposites, he vvell observes, 
are of two kinds, either logical, that is, such as are absolutely 
incompatible ; or real, without being contradictory. The 
former he denominates Nihil negativum irrepraesentabile, 
5 the connection of which produces nonsense. A body in 
motion is something — Ahquid cogitabile ; but a body, at one 
and the same time in motion and not in motion, is nothing, 
or, at most, air articulated into nonsense. But a motory 
force ofa body in one direction, and an equal force of the 

10 same body in an opposite directioh is not incompatible, and 
the result, namely, rest, is real and representable. For the 
purposes Of mathematical calculus it is indifferent which 
f orce we term negati ve, and which positive, and consequently 
we appropriate the latter to that, which happens to be the 

,5 principal object in our thoughts. Thus if a man's capital 
be ten and his debts eight, the subtraction will be the same, 
whether we call the capital negative debt, or the debt nega- 
tive capital. But in as much as the latter stands practically 
in reference to the former, we of course represent the sum 

20 as 10-8. It is equally clear that two equal forces acting in 
opposite directions, both being finite and each distinguished 
from the other by its direction only, must neutrahze or 
re luce each other to inaction. Now__tbe_transcendental 
philosophy dernands ; first, thatlwo ioxce.s^snould be con- 

25 ceived which counteract each other by their essential nature ; 
not only not in consequence of the accidental direction of 
ea^h, but as prior to all direction, nay, as the primary forces 
from which the conditions of all possible' directil3ns are 
derivative and deducible ; secondly, that these fprces should 

30 be ass umed t o be both ahke infinite, both aUke indestruc- 
tible. The problem will then be to discover the result or 
product of two such forces, as distinguished from the result 
of those forceswhich ar e finit e, and derive their d iffprpnrp 
solely^ from the gircumstance of thei r dircction. W]ien_vy'e 

35 have formed a scheme or outhne of these two different kinds 


Biographia Literaria ch. xm 

of force, and of their different results by the process of dis- 
cursive reasoning, it will then remain for us to elevate the 
Thesis from notional to actual, by contemplatiftg intuitively 
this one power with its two inherent indestructible yet 
counteracting forcesTahd the results or generations to which 5 
their inter-penetration gives existence, in the hvjngprinciple 
and in the process of our own self-consciousness.'~By\vhat 
instrument this is possible Ihe solutioh itsetf wiirdiscover, at 
the same time that it will reveal to and for whom it is pos- 
sible. Non omnia possumus omnes. There is a philosophic lo 
no less than a poetic genius, which is differenced from the 
highest perfection of talent, not by degree but by kind. 

The counteraction then of the two assumed forces does 
not depend on their meeting from opposite directions ; the 
power which acts in them is indestructible ; it is therefore 15 
inexhaustibly re-ebulhent ; and as something must be the 
result df these two forces, both ahke infinite, and both ahke 
indestructible ; and as rest or neutrahzation cannot be this 
result ; no other conception is possible, but that the product 
must be a tertium ahquid, or finite generation. Conse- 20 
quently this conception is necessary. Now this tertium 
ahquid can be no other than an inter-penetration _of the 
counteracting powers, partaking of both. 

Thus far had the work been transcribed for the press, 
when I received the following letter from a friend, whose 25 
practical judgement I have had ample reason to estimate and 
revere, and whose taste and sensibility preclude all the 
excuses which my self-love might possibly have prompted 
me to set up in plea against the decision of advisers of equal 
good sense, but with less tact and feehng. 30 

Dear C. 

" You ask my opinion concerning yoiir Chapter on the 
Imagination, both as to the impressions it made on myself, and 

CH. XIII Biographia Literaria 199 

fls to those which I think it will niake on the public, i.e. that 
part of the public, who, from the title of the work and from its 
forming a sort of introduction to a volume of poems, are likely 
to constitute the great majority of your readers. 
5 " As to myself, and stating in the first place the effect on my 
understanding, your opinions and meihod of argument were 
not only so new to me, but so directly the reverse of all I had 
ever heen accusfomed to consider as truth, that even if I had 
comprehended your premises sufficiently to have admitted them, 

10 and had seen the necessity of your conclusions, I should still 
have heen in that state of mind, which in your note p. 52, 53. 
you have so ingeniously evolved, as the antithesis to that in 
which a man is, when he makes a bull. In your own words, 
I should have felt as if I had heen standing on my head. 

15 " The e-ffect on my feelings, on the other hand, I cannot better 
represent, than by supposing myself to have known only our 
light airy modern chapels of ease, and then for the flrst time to 
have been placed, and left alone, in one of our largest Gothic 
cathedrals in a gusty moonlight night of autumn. " Now in 

20 glimmer, and now in gloom ; " often in palpable darkness not 
without a chilly sensation of terror ; then suddenly emerging 
into hroad yet visionary lights with coloured shadows of fan- 
tastic shapes, yet all decked with holy insignia and mystic 
symhols ; and ever and anon coming out full upon pictures and 

25 stone-work images of great men, with whose names / was 
familiar, hut which looked upon me with countenances and an 
expression, the most dissimilar to all I had heen in the hahit of 
connecting with those names. Those whom I had been taught 
to venerate as almost super-human in magnitude of intellect, 

30 / found perched in little fret-work niches, as grotesque dwarfs ; 
while the grotesques, in my hitherto belief, stood guarding the 
high altar with all the characters of Apotheosis. In short, 
what I had supposed suhstances were thinned away into 
shadows, while everywhere shadows were deepened into suh- 

35 stances : 

200 Biographia Literaria ch. xm 

' If substance may be caird what shadow seem'd, 
For each seem'd either ! ' Miltox. 

" Yet aftcr all, I coiild not but repeat the lines which you had 
quotcd from a MS. poem of your own in the Friend, and 
applied to a work of Mr. WordswortKs though with a few of 5 
thc words altered : 

" An orphic tale indeed, 

A tale ohscure of high and passionate thoughts 
To a strange music chaunted ! " 

" Be assured, however, that I look forward anxiously to lo 
your great hook on the constructive philosophy, which 
you have promised and announced : and that I will do my 
hest to understand it. Only I will not promise to descend into 
the dark cave of Trophonius with you, there to ruh my own 
eyes, in order to make the sparks and figured flashes, which 15 
7 am required to see. 

" So much for myself. But as for the Public, / do not 
hesitate a moment in advising and urging you to withdraw 
the Chapter from the present work, and to reserve it for-your 
announced treatises on the Logos or communicative intellect in 20 
Man and Deity. First. because, imperfectly as I understand 
the present Chapter, I see clearly that you have done too much, 
and yet not enough. You have been ohliged to omit so many 
links, from the necessity of compression, that what remains, 
looks {if I may recitr to my former illustration) like the frag- 25 
ments of the winding steps of an old ruined tower. Secondly, 
a still stronger argument {at least one that I ani sure will be 
more forcible with you) is, that 'your readers will have both 
right and reason to complain of you. This Chapter, which 
cannot, when it is printed, amount to so little as an hundred 30 
pages, will of necessity greatly increase the expense of the 
work ; and every reader who, like myself, is neither prepared 
nor perhaps calculated for the study of so abstruse a suhject 
so abstrusely treated, will, as I have before hinted, he almost 
entitled to accuse you of a sort of imposition on him. For 35 

CH. xni Biographia Literaria 201 

who, he might truly observc, coidd froni your title-page, viz. 
" i^io Hitcrarg %\U anD ©ptniong," published too as intro- 
diictory to a volume of miscellaneous poems, have anticipated , 
or cvcn conjectured, a long treatise on ideal Realism which 

5 holds the same relation in abstruseness to Plotinus, as Plotinus 
does to Plato. It will be well, if already you have not too much 
of metaphysical disquisition in your work, though as the larger 
part of the disquisition is historical, it will doubtless be hoth 
interesting and instructive to many to whose unprepared minds 

10 yonr speculations on the esemplasiic power woiild be utterly 
unintelligible. Be assured, if you do publish this Chapter 
in the present work, you will be reminded of Bishop Berkley's 
Siris, announced as an Essay on Tar-water, which beginning 
with Tar ends with the Trinity, the omne scibile forming the 

1 5 interspace. I say in the present work. In that greater work to 
which you have devoted so many years, and study so intense and 
various, it will be in its proper place. Your prospectus will have 
described and announced both its contents and their nature ; 
and if any persons purchase it, who feel no interest in the subjects 

20 0/ which it treats, they will have themselves only to blame. 

"/ couldadd to these arguments one derived from pecuniary 
motives, and particularly froni the probable effects on the sale of 
your present publication ; hut they would weigh little with you 
compared with the preceding. Besides, I have long observed, 

25 that arguments drawn from your own personal interests more 
often act on you as narcotics than as stimulants, and that in 
money concerns you have some small portion of pig-nature in 
your moral idiosyncracy, and, like these amiable creatures, 
must occasionally be pidled backward from the boat in order to 

30 make you enter it. All success attend you, for if hard thinking 
and hard reading are merits, you have deserved it. 

Your affectionate, &c." 

In consequence of this very judicious letter, whicli pro- 
duced complete conviction on my mind, I shall content 


Biographia Literaria ch. xm 

\ myself for the present with stating the main result of the 
\ Chapter, which I have reserved for that future pubhcation, 
a (detailed prospectus of which the reader will find at the close 
of the second volume. 

The IMAGINATION thcn, I consider either as primary, or 5 
i secondary. The primary imagination I hold to be the 
^^ ^ i hving Power and prime Agent of all human Perception, and 
^Vy ■ as a repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation 
l^ y \ in the infinite I am. Tne se condary Imagmati^c JL consider 
^/ \ as^n echo of i he former, co-existing w ith the conscious will, 10 
yet still as identical with the primary~in W\<tki)l^ of its 
agency, and differing only in degree, and lu [.\i^n9de of its 
operation. It dissolves, diffuses,,4issipates, in order to re- 
create ; or where this process is rendered impossible, yet still 
at all events it struggles to ideahze and to unify. It is 15 
essentially vital, even as ah objects {as objects) are essentially 
P, &xed and dead. 

Fancy, on the contrary, has no other counters to play 
with, but fixities and definites. The Fancy is indeed no 
other than a mode of Memory emancipated from the order of 20 
time and space ; while it is blended with, and modified by 
that empirical phenomenon of the will, which we express by 
the word choice. But equally with the ordinary memory 
the Fancy must receive all its materials ready made from 
the law of association. 25 

Whatever more than this, I shall think it fit to declare 
concerning the powers and privileges of the imagination in 
the present work, will be found in the critical essay on the 
uses of the Supernatural in poetry, and the principles that 
regulate its introduction : which the reader will find pre- 3° 
fixed to the poem of (Jfjc ^nttent i^lartncr. 



In the notes the following abbreviations have been adopted : — 

Poet. Works = The Poetical Works of S. T. Coleridge. Edited 
by J. Dykes Campbell. (Macmillan, 1905.) 

Life = Samuel Taylor Coleridge : a narrative of the events of his 
life. By J. Dykes Campbell. (Macmillan, 1896.) 

Letters — Letters of S. T. Coleridge. Edited by Ernest Hartley 
Coleridge. (Heinemann, 1895.) 

Lectieres = Lectures and Notes on Shakespeare. Editcd by 
T. Ashe. (Bohn's Library, 1902.) 

Miscdlaiiies = Miscellanies, Aesthetic and Literary, Edited by 
T. Ashe. (Bohn's Library, 1S92.) 

A. F. = Anima Poetae : from the unpublished notebooks of 
Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Edited by Ernest Hartley Coleridge. 
(Heinemann, 1895.) 

L. B. = Lyrical Ballads. Edited by G. Sampson. (1903.) 

T. T. = CoIeridge's Table-Talk. Edited by H. N. Coleridge. 
The references are given under the dates. 

O. W. = The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth. Edited 
by Thomas Hutchinson. (Oxford Edition, Henry Frowde, 1904.) 

Biog. Lit. 1847 — Biographia Literaria, &c. : Second Edition, 
prepared in part by H. N. Coleridge, completed and published by 
his widow. 2 vols. (1847.) 

Biog. Lit. = The present edition of the Biographia Literaria 
and the Aesthetical Essays. 

The references to Schelling are taken from the 1858 edition of his 
works, and those to Kant from the 1867 edition (by Hartenstein). 



Page 1 1. I. This opening paragraph wasprobably written when 
the greater part of the book was already complete. See Sup- 
plementary Note to Introduction. 

Page 2 1. 3. In 1794. The actual date was the spring of 1796. 
The volume was entitled ' Poems upon Various Subjects : 
London : Printed for C. G. and J. Robinson ; and J. Cottle, Book- 
seller, Bristol.' Of these poems the best known are Religious 

204 Biographta Literaria 

Musings, the Monody on the Death of Chatterton, and the poem 
afterwards named The Aeolian Hatp. Lamb contributed several 
sonnets, and Southey part of one sonnet, to this volume. 

8. The critics of that day. In a letter to Estlin of this year 
( 1796) Coleridge writes : ' The Reviews have been wonderful. The 
^fonthly has cataracted panegyric on my poems, the Critical has 
cascaded it, and the Analytical has dribbled it with very tolerable 
civihty.' The critic of the Analytical Revieiu was apparently 
the only one who commented on the ' compound epithets, through 
which' (as he wrote) 'the language becomes sometimes turgid'. The 
Monthly Review, vvhile according high praise to the poems, repri- 
mands the author for being often * uncouth, obscure, and verging 
to extravagance ' ; while the Monthly Magazine remarks that the 
poems ' though neglectfuUy composed, discover the true character 
of genius'. (See CoIeridge's Letters to the Rev.f. P. Estlin, pub. 
by the Philobiblon Society, p. 21.) 

\\. a profusion of new coined double epithets. Coleridge's 
note impHes that the use of double epithets is the sign of an im- 
mature style. But it is rather the quahty than the quantity of 
such words that is affected by the ripening judgement of the poet. 
Thus no p]ay of Shakespeare's contains so many double epithets 
as the Troilus attd Cressida. And they are also characteristic 
(to take a more modern instance) of Keats's maturer work. But in 
both poets, and especially in Keats, the later examples are far 
more fehcitous than the earlier. (See Keats's Poetns, ed. E. de 
Sehncourt, App. C, p. 581.) 

F.N. Tatiquain scoptiluin, &;c. See Gell. Noct. Att. i. 10. 4 
' /(/ qt(od a C. Caesare, excelletitis ingcnii ac prudetitiae viro, iti 
prittio de analogia libro scriptutii est ; habe setnper in tneitwria 
atque in pectore, ut tanquam scopulum, sic fugias inauditum atqu:; 
insolens verbum.' {Ca^sar^s Cotntiientaries, ed. Kiibler, iii. 141.) 

Page 3 1. 8. In tJie after editions. The second edition appeared 
in 1797. Some twenty of the poems contained in the first edition 
were omitted and ten new ones added, including the Ode io the 
Departing Year and Reflections ott leaving a place of Retiretnetit. 
To this edition was 'prefixed the dedication to Coleridge's brother 
George, which is full of autobiographical interest. Both Lamb and 
Lloyd contributed to this volume. It was reprinted in 1803, with 
the omission of Lloyd's poems. 

9. I pruned the double epithets ivith no sparing hand, &c. 
In the whole of this sentence Coleridge is quoting almost word for 
word from the preface to the second edition, where he retums 
thanks to his reviewers for the assistance they have given him in 
discovering his ' poetic deficiencies '. A comparison of the two 
volumes, however, reveals that the ' pruning ' process was not carried 
out so sternly as one is here led to suppose. Thus ' sorrovv- 
shrivelled ', deleted in the Monody, is inserted in the Man of Ross. 


Nofes, Chapter I 20= 

Such epithets as ' eye-startling ', ' twy-streaming ', ' sure-refuged ', 
' flower-caressing ', are retained ; and the number of actual omissions 
is small. 

15. From that pericd to the date o/ the prese7tt work I have 
publishcd nothing-, &c. We must remember that Coleridge wrote 
these words in 1815, before the pubHcation of Christabel, Zapolya, 
or the first Lay Sermon. But even so he has forgotten Re- 
tnorse, which was published in 1812. 

18. the three or four poenis printed with the works of a friend. 
The Ly7'ical Ballads, to which Coleridge here alludes, were first 
published in 1798, and Coleridge contributed four poems — The 
Rime of the A?icye?it ALarinere ; Ihe Nightingale, a Conversation 
Poem ; The Fostcr-Mother^s Tale ; and The Dungeon. The 
majority of the reviewers took all the poems to be the work of one 
writer. The critic of the Monthly Rcview expressed his regrets 
that he ' could not regard them as poetry ' ; the Analytical Rcvieiv, 
on the other hand, infinitely preferred ' tlie simpHcity of this volume 
to the meretricious frippery of the Darwinian taste '. None of them 
knew what to make of the Ancieiit Mariner; but it was the 
matter of this ' cock-and-bull story ', rather than the manner, to 
which they took exception. The only comment of the Monthly 
Magazine upon the volume is to the effect that it is ' an attempt 
at the simplicity of the old writers '. 

31. the desire of giving a poetic colottring, &c. Cp. his own 
description of his poetry to Thelwall [Letters, p. 197; Dec. 1796) : 
' My philosophical opinions are blended with or deduced from my 
feelings ; and this, I think, peculiarizes my style of writing.' 

Page 4 I. 10. « very severe master. Cp. Coleridge's account of 
'his one just flogging ' {T. T, May 27, 1830) ; also Lamb's essay 
Chrisfs Hospital fve-and-thirty years ago, and CoIeridge's MS. 
note, Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 34225. 

II. the prefercnce of LLomer and Theocritus to Virgil. Cole- 
ridge retained his poor opinion of Virgil to the end of his life. Cp. 
T. T, June 2, 1829. It was no doubt on similar grounds that he 
preferred, even in the matter of style, the prose writers of the 
seventeenth century to Addison and his contemporaries. (See 
Miscellanies, p. 175.) 

PaGE 5 1. 16. the Manchineel fruit. Despite Boyer's teaching, 
Coleridge was tempted to introduce this simile in the dedication of 
the 1797 edition of his poems :— 

Some most false, 
False and fair-foliaged as the manchineel, 
Have tempted me to slumber in their shade 
E'en mid the storm ; then breathing subtlest damps, 
Mixed their own venom with the rain from Heaven, 
That I woke poisoned. 
See letter from Lamb to Coleridge (Ainger^s Lajnb, i. 83) ; ur.d 

2o6 Bwgraphia Literaria 

cp. De Ouincey (ed, Masson), xi. 378 : ' Coleridge in hisearlydays 
used the image of a man " sleeping under a manchineeltree" aher- 
nately with the case of Alexander kilhng Clytus as resources for 
illustration which Providence had bountifully made exhaustless in 
their application.' 

Page 6 1.35. Ne falleretur, &c. This passage may, as Sara 
Coleridge surmised, be Coleridge's own invention. At least 
I cannot discover any authority for the use of 'genuina' as a sub- 
stantive ; though ' genuinus ' is so used. 

PaGE 7 1. 26. in whose halls are huiig 

Armoiiry of the invincible k?iights of old, 
Wordsworth, Poenis dedicated to Nat. Independ., &c., Sonnet xvi. 

31. Instead of storing the memory, &c. Cp. Lectures, p. 160 : 
' We should address ourselves to those faculties in a chiWs mind, 
which are first awakened by nature, and consequently first admit 
of cultivation, that is to say, the memory and the imagination. 
The comparing power, the judgement, is not at that age active, and 
ought not to be forcibly exercised, as is too frequently done in the 
modern systems of education, which can only lead to selfish views, 
debtor and creditor principles of virtue, and an inflated sense of 

PaGE 8 I. 9. Neqtie enim debet. Plin. Ep. I. xvi. 

17. the sonnets of Mr. Boivles. The volume here referred to 
must be the second edition, published in 1789, and containing 
twenty-one sonnets. 

20. a schoolfelloiv who had quitted us for the University. 
Middleton left Christ's Hospital for Cambridge in 1788. He 
renewed his friendship with Coleridge when the latter entered the 
University in October, 1791 ; but (unfortunately for Coleridge, who 
no doubt felt the loss of his influence) he left Cambridge in 1792. 
He was appointed the first Bishop of Calcutta in 1813, and held 
this position till his death in 1824. 

25. Qui laudibus amplis, &c. From Petrarch's Latin Epistles, 
No. 7, Barbato Subnonensi. For qui the original reads quae ; 
for Dutda, Regia. 

Page 9 I. 13. the three orfourfollowing publications. Afourth 
and a fifth edition of the sonnets of Bowles were published in 1796. 
Coleridge acknowledged his debt to Bowles in a sonnet printed 
in the Morning Chronicle, Dec. 26, 1794. ' To the Rev. W. L. 
Bowles ' (' My heart has thanked thee, Bowles, for these soft 
strains '), of which a second version appeared in the 1796 edition of 
CoIeridge's poems. In the introduction to a collection of Sonnets 
which he edited in 1796, Coleridge writes, ' Those sonnets appear to 
me the most exquisite in which moral sentiments are deduced from 
and associated with the scenery of Nature. They create a sweet 

Notes, Chapter I 207 

and indissoluble union between the intellectual and the material 
world. . . . Hence the sonnets of Bowles derive their marked 
superiority over all other sonnets,' By 1802 Coleridgehad realized 
(especially in the later poems of Bowles) the deficiencies in this treat- 
ment of Nature. * The poet's heart and intellect (he writes to Southey 
in that year) should be intimatelycombined and unified with the great 
appearances of Nature, and not held in solution and loose mixture 
with them, in the shape of formal similes.' But the process of dis- 
enchantment probably began some time before this. At the end of 
1796 Bowles was still the 'god of his idolatry ' [Leiiers, pp. 179, 
196), but it is significant that CoIeridge's project of dedicating the 
second edition (1797) of his poemsto Bowles (' Coleridge, I love you 
for dedicating your poems to Bowles ' : Lainb's Letters, ed. Aiitger, 
i. 46) was not carried out. The two poets met in 1797, and the 
meeting does not seem to have impressed Coleridge favourably 
(Cottle, Reiii. p. 130). In 1816 Coleridge injured himself irreparably 
in BowIes's eyes by his corrections of his former idoFs poems. He 
visited Bowles at Bremhill, and showed him these corrections, and 
also his remarks in the Biog. Lit. Bowles ' took the corrections, 
but never forgave the corrector' (Letter to Brabant, Westiii, Rev., 
July 1870, p. 21). For BowIes's influence on Coleridge the reader 
should compare the elder poefs sonnet ' To the Itchin' with Cole- 
ridge's ' To the River Otter' (Zz/V, p. 18). Coleridge assimilated 
the faults as well as the excellences of his teacher, and was some 
time in getting rid of them. Four years later (1793) Wordsworth 
came across BowIes's sonnets for the first time, andfound the same 
charm in them. 

25. At a very prejiiatjire age. Cp. the famous passage in 
Lamb's essay (Chrisfs Hospital Jive-and-thirty years ago), which 
is doubtless to some extent founded on fact. ' Come back into 
memory, like as thou wert in the dayspring of thy fancies, with 
hope like a fiery column before thee — the dark column not yet 
turned — Samuel Taylor Coleridge — Logician, Metaphysician, Bard ! 
How have I seen the casual passer through the cloisters stand 
still,' &c. 

31. two or three compositions. The first version of the 
Monody on the Death of Chatterton was among Coleridge's 
schoolboy compositions (see Poet. Works, p. 8). 

PagE 10 1. 7. 0/ providence,/oreknoivledge, will andfate, &c. 
Milton, Paradise Lost, ii. 559-60. 

14. an accidental ifitroduction to an ainiable faviily. This 
was the family of Mrs. Evans, whose acquaintance Coleridge 
probably made in 1788. His love for Mary Evans, her daughter, 
the first and only real passion of his life, does not seem to have 
declared itself until the end of 1790, a year after his introduction 
to Bowles's sonnets. CoIeridge's intercourse with them ceased on 
his discovery in 1794 that Mary Evans did not retum his love, and 

2o8 Biographia Literaria 

with it ceased ' one of the most important crises of his life.' {Life, 
pp. 14-16, 40.) 

22. have soHght refiige in abstriise researc]ies. Cp. ' Dejec- 
tion ', 11. 87-91 : 

For not to think of what I needs must feel, 
But to be still and patient, all I can, 
And haply by abstruse research to steal 
From my own nature all the natural man, 
This was my sole resource, my only plan. 
Cp. Letters, &'c., of S. T. Coleridge, ed. by T. Allsop, 1836, ii. 
136: * My eloquence was most commonly excited by the desire 
of running away and hiding myself from my personal and inward 
feelings, and noi for the expressiofi of them.' And to W. Collins, 
in 1818, he writes {Letters, p. 694) : ' Poetry is out of the question. 
The attempt would only hurry me into that sphere of acute feelings 
from which abstruse research, the mother of self-oblivion, presents 
an asylum.' 

26. a long and blessed interval. Doublless the years 1795-S, 
the most productive and probably the happiest period of Coleridge's 
life, when the troubles he had to contend with were as yet but 

as the stuff 
Whence fancy wove me dreams of happiness. 
Cp. Hazlitt {Spirit of the Age, Coleridge) : * Poetry redeemed him 
from his spectral philosophy, and he bathed his heart in beauty.' 

Page 11 1. 1. the Lewsdon Llill of Mr. Crow. First published at 
the Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1786. The poem is marked by the 
same merits and defects as the sonnets of Bowles. We have the 
same attitude to Nature, the same moralizing sentiment and unin- 
spired reflection, which Coleridge subsequently condemned ; and 
the same advance in the direction of a natural, as opposed to an 
artificial, simplicity. The following extract may serve as an 
example : — 

Thou nameless Rivulet, that from the side 
Of Lewsdon softly swelling, forth dost dip 
Adown the valley, wandering sportively, 
Alas ! how soon thy little. course shall end ! 
How soon thy infant stream shall lose itself 
In the salt mass of waters, ere it grow 
To name or greatness ! Yet it flows along 
Untainted with the commerce of the world, 
Not pressing by the noisy haunls of men, 
But thro' sequestered meads. 
And then comes the human 'association '— 

So to thine early grave didst thou run on, 
Spotless Francesca ! 

Notes, Chapter I 209 

28. thoughts translated into the language of poetry. Cp. 
On Poesy or Art, 1818 {Biog. Lit. ii. 262) : ' Remember that there 
is a difference \>QX.\vt&n fornt as proceeding, and shape as superin- 
duced\ — the latter is either the death or the imprisonment of the 
thing ; — the former is its self-witnessing and self-efFected sphere of 
agency.' (The italics are mine.) 

31. Darwin^s Botanic Garden. Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802), 
poet, physician, inventor, and natural philosopher. In 1788 he 
made a botanical garden near Lichfield, on which his friend 
Miss Seward wrote some verses, which seem in their turn to have 
suggested his Botanic Garden. The poem was published in two 
parts (the Loves of the Platits, 1789, and the Econoiny of Vegeta- 
tion, 1792). Darwin took Pope as his poetic model, and held the 
theory (expounded in the notes to his poems) that poetry should 
consist of word-painting {st& L.ectures, p. 48). T>2Lr\\\-a!s Loves of 
the Plants was parodied with great efifect by the Anti-Jacobin in 
the Loves of the Triangles. (See the Poetry of the Anti-Jacobin, 
ed. C. Edmunds, 1890, p. 151.) 

Page 12 1. 3. a contributionforaliterarysocieiyin Devonshire. 
This society was probably the Society of Gentlemen at Exeter, 
a volume of whose essays was published in 1796. The society 
existed until 1808, and is described in the Gentlevian^s Magazine, 
Jan. 18 10. As Coleridge was not a regular member his essay was 
not included in the volume, and it is greatly to be regretted that no 
other trace of it is to be found. 

10. the siniile in Shakespeare. Merchant of Venice, Act ii. 
sc. 6. 

29. personifications, or niere abstractions. What Coleridge 
blames in Gray is apparently not so much that he personifies 
abstractions, as that he leaves them when personified cold and life- 
less ; whereasfrom CoUins they receive a real, not merely a verbal, 
personaHty. See T. 7". (ed. 1858), p. 340 : ' Gray's personifications, 
he said, were mere printers' devils' personifications,' &c. 

Page 13 F.N. look out in the Gradus. A reference to the 
Gradus shows that Coleridge's example is inaccurate ; but his 
criticism is none the less just. 

Page 14 1. 4. Thy iinage on her tuing, &c. * Memory's Wing ' 
is a figure employed by Coleridge himself in his Fareiue/i Ode 011 
quitting School for Jesus College, Canibridge — a poem which 
abounds in instances of this same fault. 

11. no authority could avail. In thesewords Coleridge's final 
standpoint in criticism is summed up ; and it is significant that 
it should have been attained thus early. 

22. not thepoeni which we havc read, but, iS:c. : i. e. because the 
fact of our returning to it proves that its attraction did not lie in the 
novelty of the matter. Cp. the vigorous denunciation in Satyrane^s 


2IO Biographia Literaria 

Letters {Biog. Lit. ii. 160-1) of the playgoer who attends the theatre 
merely to gratifyhis curiosity; and Lectures fp. 237), ' Expectation 
in preference to surprise as a characteristic of Shakespeare's plays.' 
32. in penising French tragedies. Coleridge cherished 
throughout his life an unreasonable antipathy to the French 
classical drama, and indeed to everything French ; yet his remarks 
in Satyrane's Letters show that he was fuUy alive to the distinctive 
excellence of this form of drama. Cp. Lecfures, p. 213, where 
he characterizes the dialogue of P'rench tragedies as 'the natural 
product of the hotbed of vanity, namely, the closet of an author 
who is actuated originally by a desire to excite surprise and wonder- 
ment at his own superiority to other men ', &c. (18 18). 

Page 15 1. 3. / tuas wont boldly to affirni, &:c. Cp. T. T., 
July 3, 1833: 'The coUocatlon ofwords is so artificial in Shake- 
speare and Milton, that you may as well think of pushing a brick 
out of a wall with your forefinger as attempt to remove a word out 
of their finished passages ; ' and p. 340 (ed. 1858). 

II. /roni Donne to Coiuley. See Miscellanies, p. 135. ' Won- 
der-exciting vigour, intenseness, and pecullarity of thought, using 
at will the almost boundless stores of a capacious memory, and 
exercised on subjects where we have no right to expect it — this is 
the wit of Donne ! ' Cp. also Poet. Works, p. 471. 

26. the Monody at Matlock, pub. 1791 ; the Vision of Hope, 
pub. 1796. Letter to Thelwall, Nov. 1796: ' Bowles . . . has 
written a poem lately without plan or meaning, but the component 
parts are divine. It is entitled " Hope : an allegorical sketch " '. 
{Letters, p. 179.) 

30. The poems of JVest, Gilbert West (1703-56). He is best 
known for his imitations of Spenser and translations of Pindar's 
Odes and of Euripides. In his introduction to the translation of 
the Odes is a condemnation of CowIey's previous translation, very 
similar in spirit to CoIerIdge's criticisms of the same work {Biog. 
Lit. ii. 66). Johnson found West's translation 'elegant and 
exact, but sometimes too paraphrastical ' ; and Horace Walpole 
remarked of it that ' the poetry is very stifif' . Gray, on the other 
hand, speaks of himself and his friends being ' all enraptured and 
enmarvailed ' by West's imitation of Spenser, ' On the abuse of 
travelling.' (Gray's Works, ed. Gosse, ii. 90.) 

Page 16 1.2. Warton. Thomas Warton (1728-90). His son- 
nets, which were special favourites with Hazlitt, resemble those of 
Bowles in their tenderness and sincerity of feeling. One in par- 
ticular, To the River Lodon, suggests comparison with Bovvles's 
To the Itchin, and Coleridge's To the River Otter, which it may 
have helped to inspire. Coleridge scarcely seems to make due 
acknowledgement of his debt to Warton, just as he omits all refer- 
ence to Akenside, whose influence he yet undoubtedly felt. (See 
Athenceum, Feb. 16, 1905 ; Letters, p. 197.) 

Notes, Chapter I 211 

4. Percys colledion. Thomas Percy (1728-1811), Bishop of 
Dromore, poet, scholar, and antiquary. His Reliques of Aticieni 
English Poetry (most of them genuine English poems, some 
retouched, and some modern imitations) were published in 1765, 
and became generaliy and immediately popular, going through four 
editions before Percy's death. Of the poets of the succeeding 
generation, Walter Scott came most directly under their influence. 
Wordsworth, writing in 1815 {Essay Supplementary to Pre/ace), 
says : * I do not think there is an able writer of the present day 
who would not be proud to acknowledge his obligations to the 
Reliqiies ; I know that it is so with my friends ; and for myseh", 
I am happy in this occasion to make a pubhc avowal of my own.' 

F. N. Cowper^s Task. The Task was first pubhshed in 1785 ; 
Thomson's Castle of Indolence in 1746. Coleridge was certainly 
famiHar with Cowper in 1796 (cp. Letters, p. 197, where he speaks 
of the * divine chit-chat of Cowper '), and probably earlier. 

17. the lines luliich are 7iow adopted. Theselines, contributed 
by Coleridge to Book II of Southey's foaii of Arc (first edition 
1796), were to have been enlarged into a separate poem and pub- 
lished in the 1797 edition of Coleridge's poems, under the title of 
Visiotis of the Maid of Orleatis. The additions, however, were 
never finally completed, and the poem was left in the fragmentary 
state in which it finally appeared (in the Sibylline Leaves, 1817) 
as the Destiny of Nations : a Visioii. The only addition of im- 
portance is the passage 11. 123-270 {Poef. Works, p. 584). Cole- 
ridge is surely strangely at fault in classing this poem, ' in respect 
of the general tissue of style,' with the shorter blank verse poems 
of these years. See his letter to Wade, June 16, 1814 {Poet. Works, 
p. 585), where he speaks of ' the utter want of all rhythm in the 
verse, the monotony and dead phinib doivti of the pauses, and the 
absence of all bone, muscle, and sinew in the single lines,' a criticism 
which includes his own verse as well as Southey's. 

18. in the presetit collection, i. e. in Sibylline Leaves, published 
with the first edition of the Biog. Lit. 

20. the Tragedy of Reniorse. In its earliest form, as written 
and sent to Sheridan in 1797, the drama was entitled Osorio. 
Rejected by Sheridan, it lay for many years in MS. ; in 1812 
it was recast as Remorse, and produced in January 1S13 at 
Drury Lane. 

Page 17 1. 3. a copy of verses half ludicrous, half splenetic. The 
Address to a Youtigjackass and iis tethered Mother, first published 
in Morning Chrotticle,T>tz. 30, 1 794. See Letters, p. 606. The motto 
Sertnoni propriora was not affixed to this poem, but (in the edition 
of 1797) to the poem Reflections oti leaving a place of retiremetit 
(see T. T., July 25, 1832: ' Charles Lamb translated my motto 
serttioni propriora by properer for a serttioti .' '). 

II. under the ttaitie of Nehettiiah Higginbottotn. These 

P 3 

212 Biographia Literaria 

sonnets were fiist printed in the Monihly Magazine for Nov. 1797. 
In Cottle's Remitiiscences (p. 160) appears a letter from Coleridge 
(which must have been written in the same month), where he says : 
' I sent to the Monthly Magazine three mock sonnets in ridicule of 
my own Poems, and Charles Lloyd's, and Charles Lamb's, &c., 
&c., exposing that affectation of unaffectedness, of jumping and mis- 
placed accent, in commonplace epithets, flat lines forced into poetry 
by italics (signifying how well and mouthishly the author would 
read them), puny pathos, &c., &c. The instances were all taken 
from myself and Lloyd and Lamb. I signed them " Nehemiah 
Higginbottom". I think they may do good to our young Bards ' 
(see Poet. Works, p. 599). It is to be noticed that Coleridge here 
writes as if all the sonnets were example of the same faults. A 
comparison of the sonnets in their original form {Poet. Works, 
p. 110), and as they appear in the Biog. Lit., shows that Coleridge 
has added largely, in the first sonnet, to the number of italicized 
words and employed capital letters where they are not found in the 
originals. In Lloyd's early poems the examples of these faults are 
very few: yet the style and sentiment of the first sonnet suggest 
that it was aimed at Lloyd. The second sonnet seems a satire, 
not so much on Lloyd's style as on Lloyd himself (''Tis true on 
Lady Fortune's gentlest pad I amble on,' &c.). Of the affected 
simplicity in langiiage of this sonnet, however, Lamb's sonnets are 
probably the prototype ; whereas in the last sonnet, Coleridge 
seems to have been, as he declares, his own victim. 

Page 18 F. N. ruritten and insertcd in the Morning Post. Cole- 
ridge is here inventing. The epigram in question appeared in the 
Morning Post, ]a.n. 24, 1800, with this heading : ' To MR PVE on 
his Carnien Seculare (a title which has by various persons who 
have heard it been thus translated, " A Poem an age long").' See 
Poct, Works, p. 444. 


The first chapter of the Biographia Literaria is the only one 
in which we have anything like consecutive biography. In this 
second chapter Coleridge turns to a quite irrelevant topic, the 
irritability of men of gcnius, which leads him on to a denunciation 
of irresponsible criticism. His attacks on the false methods of 
cr-iticism prevailing in his day, though occasionally they took too 
personal a direction, constitute one of the most interesting and 
significant features of the Biographia Literaria. 

How long before this Coleridge had arrived at the conclusions em- 
bodied in this chapter with regard to genius is shown in a letter to 
Sotheby (Sept. 1802 : Letters, p. 402) : ' It is my faith that \.\i&genus 
irritabilc is a phrase applicable only to bad poets. Men of great 
genius have indeed as an essential of their composition great sen- 

Nofes, Chapter II 213 

sibility, but they have likewise great confidence in their own powers ; 
and fear must always precede anger in the human mind.' And A. P. 
1805 (p. 160) : ' Those only who feel no originality, no consciousness 
of having received their thoughts and opinions from direct inspira- 
tion, are anxious to be thought original. The certainty, the feeling 
that he is right, is enough for the man of genius.' 

Page 19 1. 14, Geiius irritabile vatiim. Horace, Ep. II. ii. 102. 
27. Schiudrvierci. ' Schwarmer ' in the sense of fanatic is 
found as early as the sixteenth century (Alberus, Luther). Its 
commoner use in the present day is to signify ' passionate devotion 
to any cause or object, reasonable or unreasonable ' (see Heyne, 
Deutsches Worterbuch ) . 

PaGE 20 I. 29. While the foruier rest content betiveen thoJtght 
and reality. The man of absolute genius, that is, chooses an 
imaginative and ideal medium of expression — the world of artistic 
forms ; the man of connnanding genius chooses a real medium 
— the actual world of existing things and human hves. And it is 
by choosing an irrelevant and inadequate medium that the latter 
become'the shaping spirit of Ruin '. Cf. The Friend {\%o<^-\o), 
Xo. 8 : ' Luther was possessed with his poetic images as with sub- 
stances apart from himself: Luther did not ^criie, he acted T^Qtm'=,.' 

PaGE 21 1. 19. Chaucer. T. T., March 15, 1834: 'I take un- 
ceasing delight in Chaucer. His manly cheerfulness is especiallv 
delicious to me in my old age,' &c. 

F. N. Mr. Pope was under the comnion error of his age. For 
Coleridge's exposure of this eiTor (the substitution of a criterion 
extracted from the artforms of a particular age for a criterion 
founded in the universal nature of man) compare his lectures on 
Shakespeare^^^i-^/w, and especially the introductory lectures of the 
courses of 18 11- 12 and 1818. But Coleridge hardly reaHzed to what 
extent the admiration which the critics of the eighteenth century 
entertained for Shakespeare shook their confidence in their own 
theories. (See especially Johnson's ' Preface'.) 

the first course of lectures, ivhich differed, &c. Coleridge's 
first course was given"early in 1808. The record preserved is too 
scanty to enable us to verify his description of their contents. 
Schlegers lectures (which were delivered in the same year) seem 
first to have come into his hands when most of the lectures of the 
second course (1811-12) had been delivered. Coleridge again and 
again asserted his independence of Schlegel. See especially Lect. 
IX (1811-12), the statement prefixed to the notes on Hamlet in the 
lectures and notes of 18 18, and the letter to a gentleman written 
in Feb. 1818 (Lectures. p. 127) ; also the letter to Sir G. Beaumont 
(1804: Me7norials of Coleorton, i. 48), where reference is made to 
an analysis of Hamlet's character by Coleridge. There is no 
doubt, however, that in the lectures of 181 8 he borrowed largely 

214 Biographia Literaria 

from Schlegel. See the Appendix to Notes and Lechires on 
Shakespeare by S. T. Coleridge, edited by his daughter (1849). 

Page 22 1. I. greiv itnmortal in his own despite. Pope's 
Epist. to Augitstus {Imit. of Horace), 11, 69 foll. : Shakespeare 
For gain not glory vvinged his roving flight, 
And grew immortal in his own despite. 
2. Speaking of one whoiii he had celebrated. Coleridge's 
opinion, to the end of his life, was that Shakespeare's sonnets 
were all addressed to a woman {T. T., May 14, 1833). The theory 
that the hero of sonnets i-cxxvi is WilHam Herbert, Earl of 
Pembroke, was put forward by J. Boaden in the Geiitleman^s 
Magazine for Oct. 1832. A month later H. W, Bright wrote to 
the Magazine claiming to have reached the same conclusion in 
1819. (See the Centleinan's Magazine for Oct. and Nov, 1832.) 
The defects of this theory are exposed in his Life of Shakespeare 
(pp, 422-6) by Mr. Sidney Lee, who advances strong arguments 
for the claims of the Earl of Southampton. But neither with 
regard to the identity of Shakespeare's friend, nor of the rival 
alluded to in the next quotation, has any single theory as yet found 
general acceptance. 

PagE 23 1. 20. the unjust persectition of Burleigh, &c, Coleridge 
here represents the view commonly held in his day, and based 
upon the transparent attack on Burleigh in Mother Hubbard's 
Tale, that Burleigh was the chief obstacle in the path of Spenser's 
preferment. (Cf, also Landor, linaginary Conversations, ' Oueen 
EHzabeth and Cecil '.) But there is no evidence whatever of unjust 
persecution. Spenser's rewards may seem to us ill-proportioned to 
his deserts, but they were far greater than have fallen to the lot of 
many poets. His appointment as secretary to Lord Grey was the 
result of his success with the Shepheard^s Calendar, and thence 
sprang his estate in Ireland, no inconsiderable property. On the 
publication of the Faery Queene, i-iii, he obtained a pension of 
^1^50 a year (about ^400 in our own money). His lack of 
further success was probably due (i) to his unfortunate choice 
of patrons — first Leicester, then Raleigh, then Essex — and to his 
loyalty to them when out of favour ; and (2) to the outspoken 
criticism of public affairs in the Faery Queene. Coleridge is still 
less historical vvhen he speaks of 'the severe calamities vvhich over- 
vvhelmed Spenser's latter days ' as ' diffusing over his compositions 
a melancholy grace'. For before the attack upon his house in 
1598 he cannot be said to have suffered any severe calamity, and 
after that date he vvrote no poetry at all. 

28. Milton . . . reserved his anger, &;c. For Coleridge's view 
of the causes and character of Milton's invective in his con- 
troversial vvritings, see the Apologetic Preface prefixed to Fire, 
Fatnine, and Slaughter m 1817 {Poet. Works, p. 527). 

Nofes, Chapter II 215 

34. Darkness before, and danger^s voice behmd. From the 
passage on Milton in The Prelude, iii. 285. 

PaGE 24 1. 2. vien before whotn he strode so far, &c. The 
same figure is used by Coleridge of Wordsvvorth and his con- 
temporaries (Crabb Robinson, Diary, &c., 1869, iii. 486). 
6. ' Argue not 

Against Heaven's hand.^ 

Milton : Second so7met to Cyriac Skinfier. The correct reading is 

I argue not 
Against Heaven's hand or will, nor bate a jot 
Of heart or hope : but still bear up and steer 
Right onward. 

PaGE 26 F. N. In the course of one of my Lectures. In the 
remains of Coleridge's lectures there is much said of Pope, but 
this particular criticism is not to be found. But in a letter to 
Mrs. Clarkson [Diaty, &;c., Jan. 1812) on the subject of Cole- 
ridge's lectures, H. E. Robinson speaks of 'an attack on Pope's 
" Honier", qualified by insincere eulogy'. 

As ■zohefi the moon, &c. Pope's rendering of Iliad, Bk. VHI, 
11. 555 ff. This passage in his translation is quoted by Words- 
worth [Essay Supplenientary to the Preface, 181 5) as illustrating 
' to what a low state knowledge of the most obvious and important 
phenomena had sunk' in Pope's day (0. W., p. 986). 

an . . . article on Chal>iiers's British Poets. This article, which 
was written by Southey, appeared in the Quarterly for July 1814. 
But it contains nothing corresponding to Coleridge's description. 

/ had long before detected. Cf. A. P. p. 5 (.' 1797) : ' The 
Bard once intoxicated me : but now I read it without pleasure.' 
Hazlitt {My First Acquaintatice with Poets) records that 
Coleridge in 1798 spoke with contempt of Gray. And Wordsworth 
in the same year (Preface to Lyrical Ballads, O. W., p. 948) writes 
of Gray as ' more than any other man curiously elaborate in the 
structure of his poetical diction '. Coleridge's opinion did not 
change. See 7". 7"., Oct. 23, 1833, and p. 340 (edition of 1858). 

EspeciaUy in this age, &c. From The Friend (1809-10), 
No. 10. See The Friend (1818), vol. ii, Essay I. 

PaGE 28 1. 10. they become the fit ifistrwnents. The argument 
is here a little obscure. Coleridge is speaking of unsuccessful 
authors who revenge themselves by turning critics. 

Page 29 1. I. ' synodical individualsJ In a footnote to No. 7 
of 77/^ Friend (1809-10), where he is attacking the evil of 
anonymous criticism, Coleridge speaks of ' each man expressing 
himself, to use the words of Andrew Mar\'ell, as a ^ synodical in- 
dividuuin' I do not know where the phrase originally occurs. 
In like manner Southey complains {^Life and Correspotidence of R. S. 

2i6 Biographia Literaria 

1849, vol. iii, p. 124) of Jeftrey's 'taking it for granted that the critic 
is, by virtue of his office, superior to every person he chooses to 
summon before him '. And long before the appearance of the 
Biog. Lii., Southey had urged Coleridge to ' lift up his voice ' 
against Jeffrey (ib. p. 135). 

3. ihe Paras of Hindusiaji. Should be written ' Pa!-ias\ 

Page 30 1. 14. itis noi lessan esseniial marl: of i7-ue genius. Cf. 
Biog.Lit. ii. 14: *A second promise ofgeniusis thechoiceof subjects 
very remote,' &c. Cp. Goethe {Con-i'ersations ii>iih Eckerniann, 
29 Jan. 1826): ' As long as he (the poet) merely expresses his 
small stock of subjective emotions, he is not yet worthy the name 
(of poet) : but as soon as he succeeds in assimilating and ex- 
pressing the world outside him, he is a poet.' Was not Coleridge 
himself wanting in this ' second promise of genius ' ? See also 
T, T., July 23, 1827, on 'genius and selfishness'. 

F. N, Dryden' s fanious line. Absaiojn and Achitophel, i. 163 : 

Great wits are sure to madness near allied, 
And thin partitions do their bounds divide. 

Page 32 1. 25. / have laid too niany eggs, S^c. Coleridge was 
fond of this figure. Cf. Letter to Sir G. Beaumont, Uec. 17, 1808 : 
and to T. Poole, Oct. 14, 1803. {Memoriais of Coieorion, i. 63.) 

33. Sic vos, ncn vobis. The well-known line in the poem 
popularly attributed to Virgil. 

Page 33 1. 3. Fletcher^s lines. See Tlie Faithful SJiepJierdess, 
Act i, Sc. 2, 1. 134. For tltrd' read thoro\ See Beaumont and 
Fletcher's IVor/cs, ed. Theobald, Seward & Simpson, 1750, iii. 
113; Spenser's Shepheard''^ Calendar, July. 11. 21-4; Homer's 
Iliad, xxii. 30. 


In this and the following chapter Coleridge's apparent object is 
to account for ' the fiction of the new school of poetry ', in which 
Wordsworth, Southey, and himself were supposed to be united, 
as common upholders of certain poetical theories and methods. 
Before the end of the fourth chapter, however, he has digressed 
to another and an engrossing subject — the distinction of fancy and 
imagination — which gives rise to the discussion on the nature of 
association in chapters v, vi, vii, and viii. 

PaGE 34 1. I. To anonymous critics in reviews, &:c. The 
majority of the criticisms to which Coleridge here refers (if they 
were indeed so numerous as he asserts) must have occurred in 
ephemeral and insignificant publications, which have now been 

Noies, Cliapter III 2T7 

lost sight of; for the allusions to him in the more important 
periodicals (such as the Edinbiirgh Revieiv, the Quarter/y, the 
British Crilic, the Analytical Review) during these ' seventeen 
years ' are neither frequent, nor (with one or two exceptions) of a 
specially abusive nature. But we may take the attack in the 
Bcaiities of the Anti-Jacobin, alluded to at the end of the chapter, 
as an illustration of the lengths to which critics in those days 
would go. See also a reference by Sara Coleridge {Biog. Lit. 1847, 
i. clxv) to an article in the Petiny Cyclopaedia, which denied Cole- 
ridge any merits as a poet. 

9. Elegant Extracts. A volume of Ele^ant Extracts i7i Poetry, 
selected for the iniprovenient of Young Persons, was pubHshed in 
181 6. Similar selections, in prose and poetry, had been in vogue 
for many years. 

Anas. A collection of the memorable sayings or table-talk 
of any one {New Eng. Dict. s. v.). 

Page 35 1. 5. Averrhoe's catalogue. Averroes (1126-96) the 
Moslem philosopher, an ardent Aristotelian. A great part of his 
writings (of which the most important are the commentaries on 
Aristotle) weretranslated into very indifferent Latin, and of the com- 
mentaries upwards of a hundred editions were pubhshed between 
1480 and 1580. TYi% Catalogue of ^ Anti-Mnenionics' I have not 
been able to trace. 

\^. for at least ly years, S:c. That is, from 1798, the year 
of the publication of the Lyrical Ballads, to 18 15. Coleridge's 
association in the Lyrical Ballads was not suspected by its earliest 
critics. Since that date he had pubhshed only Tlie Friend 
(1809-10) and Reinorse (1812), both of which had been reviewed 
in not unfavourable terms {Eclectic Review, 181 1 ; Quarterly, 
1814). The worst charge which his reviewers brought against 
him was that of neglecting acknowledged powers. 

PaGE 36 I. 6. / had excited, Scc. The 'gentleman' spoken of in 
the footnote is Jeffrey, the editor of the Edinburgh Revicw. 
Jeffrey defended himself in a long note appended to the review 
of the Biog. LJt. {Edin. Rev., Aug. 1817). He shows tliat 
the second of CoIeridge's charges — that relating to his criticism 
of Enghsh prose style— is entirely without foundation. Vet 
Coleridge repeated the charge many years afterwards to AIlsop 
{Letters, &^c., of S. T. Coleiidge, ed. by T. AIlsop, 1839, vol. ii, 
p. 113). The allusion to ' the School of whimsical and hypo- 
chondriacal poets ', (Sic. I have not been able to trace in Jeffrey's 
rcviews, and probably CoIeridge's memory is here too at fault ; but 
Jeffrey was conscious of having used language at least equally as 
strong as this (e. g. in his article on Burns, Edi?t. Rev., Jan. 1809). 
Sara Coleridge {Biog. Lif. 1847, i. cxlii) declares that her father 
entertained Jeffrey at Stowey, and (she believes) at Keswick, with 
' frank hospitality '. See Biog. Lit. ii. 211, and note. Jeffrey paid 

2i8 Biographia Literaria 

his visit to the Lakes in 1810. In the footnote alluded to he makes 
light of the hospitality then shown him. 

PaGE 38 1. 10. My different essays on stibjects of national 
interest. Coleridge contributed to the Mortiing Post in the winter 
of 1799-1800, and the autumns of 1801 and 1802. For the Courier 
he did not, according to Stuart, write till the autumn of 1809; 
there is however evidence of earher contributions (see Gefitleinan^s 
Magazine, May, 1838; Life, pp. 142, 145, 168). His principal 
contribution was the series of letters On the Spatiiards sent 
from Grasmere in 1810. In 1811 he worked on the staff both as 
sub-editor and contributor, but broke off his connexion in that 
year and did not renew it until 1817. His contributions to these 
newspapers were collected and pubHshed by Sara Coleridge in 
1850, under the title Essays on Jiis own tinies, deing a second 
series ofT\\t. Friend. (See Biog. Lit. i. 141 ff. ; Life,passiin.) 

12. iny coiirses of lectu?'es on the principles of criticism, &c. 
Coleridge delivered courses of lectures in 1808 (London), 1811-12 
(London), 1812 (two courses, London), 1813-14 (two or more, 
Bristol), and 181 8-19 (two courses, London). In several of 
the courses Shakespeare or Milton, or Shakespeare and Milton, 
was announced as the subject : probably there were none (except 
those on the Histoiy of Philosophy in 181 8) which did not include 
criticism of these poets. 

14. constitute my whole pKblicity. It is strange that Coleridge 
omits all mention of the Conciones ad Popuhini (1795), '^^^^ Watch- 
inan (1795) and The Ftiend {i2>o()-io). 

24. I changed niy pla7i, &c. This statement does not seem to 
be confirmed by the facts. In the courses both of 1808 and 181 1- 
12, Coleridge's criticisms included living authors, whereas in neither 
of the courses of 18 12 did he even propose (according to the pro- 
spectus) to deal with modern poetry (cp. Knight's Life of IV. 
JVordsworth, ii. 100; Byron, Life and Letters, ed. T. Moore, 1S32, 
ii. 95, 98). 

32. Harri?igton, apparently James Harrington (161 1-77), poli- 
tical theorist, and author of The Coinnwnwealth of the Oceana 
(1656), a book long famous and noticed by Hume in his essays as 
' the only valuable model of a commonwealth ' extant (ref. Biog. 
Lit. 1847). Cp. A. P. Oct. 5, 1S04 (p. 79) : ' The really good praises 
of the unworthy are felt by a good man and man of genius, as 
detractions from the worthy, and robberies — so \k\tflashy modems 
seem to rob the ancients of the honours due to them, and Bacon 
and Harrington are not read because Hume and Condillac are! 

Page 39 I. 19. I was in habits of intiniacy , &c. Cp. A. P. 1810 
(p. 221) (on the Edin. Review) : * In vain should I tell my critics 
that . . . on seeing my own name in their abuse, I regard it only as 
a symbol of Wordsworth and Southey, and that I am well aware 
that from utter disregard and oblivion of anything and all things 

Nofes, Chapter III 219 

which they know of me by experience, my name is only mentioned 
because they have heard that I was Wordsworth's and Soiithey's 

27. his earlier fublicatio7is. The Poems piibHshed wiih Mr. 
Lovell were issued in 1795, Joan of Arc in 1796, and the ' two 
volumes under his own name ' in 1797. 

PaGE 40 1. 10. the admirable dialogiie ' de Causis Corruptae 
Eloguentiae\ The dialogue known as De Oratoribus, and origin- 
ally ascribed to Tacitus, was in the sixteenth century identified by 
Lipsius with Ouintilian's lost dialogue De Causis Corruptae Elo- 
quentiae. This view of its authorship was maintained during 
the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but from the beginning 
of the nineteenth there has been a reaction in favour of Tacitus. 
See Peterson's edition (Oxford, 1893), Introduction. This dialogue 
is referred to in Satyranes Letters [Biog. Lit. ii. 149). 

II. Stradds Prolusiotts. Famianus Strada (l 572-1649), Jesuit 
preacher and historian, best known for his work on the war 
between Spain and the Netherlands (pub. 1632-47). His /";-<?- 
lusiones et Paradeigmata Eloquetitiae (1617) are essays on literary 
style, illustrated from the writers of antiquity, the historians in 
particular. An imitation of Claudian which occurs in one of the 
essays under the title of The Muses' Duel, has been translated 
into English by Crashaw, Hinton, and by a ' third hand ' (in 167 1). 

16. agreed far more luith IVarton than ivith Johnson. The 
critical writings of both Joseph and Thomas Warton show a reaction 
in favour of the Elizabethan as opposed to the ' classical ' taste. 
See (e. g.) J. Warton's Essay on Pope, and T. Warton's History of 
Efig/ish Poetty, which was a powerful instrument in re-awakening 
interest in earlier English literature. Dr. Johnson condemned the 
imitations of Milton and Spenser in T. Warton's poetry, as 
Phrase that time hath flnng away, 
Uncouth words in disarray 
Tucked in antique ruft" and bonnet, 
Ode and elegy and sonnet. 

18. of the same mitid with Sir Philip Sidney. Cp. Sidney's 
Defense ofPoesie, ' I neyer heard the old song of Percie and Douglas 
that I found not my heart moved as with a trumpet, and yet it was 
but sung by some blind crowder with no roiigher voice than rude 
style' (ref. Biog. Lit. 1847). 

21. his 'luorks, published since ihen. Southey's Thalaba was 
published in iSoi ; Madoc, in 1805 ; The Curse of Kehama in 1810 ; 
and Roderick in 1814. The chief accusation brought against his 
poetry in the Edin. Review was that of ' childish afifectation '. 
Thus Madoc is termed an ' affectation of infantine simplicity '. 
Further, Southey's faults ' are often created by partiality for the 
peculiar manner of that new school of poetry, of which he is 
a faithful disciple\ (The italics are my own.) See Edin. Review, 

220 Biographia Literaria 

Oct. 1802, Oct. 1805, Oct. 1807, Feb. 181 1, &c. IJfe and Corre- 
spondence of R. S., iii. 51, 124, 275. 

Page 41 1. II. //le uwrds of Jereniy Taylor. I cannot trace this 

16. From the lofty address of Bacon. See Novum 07'ga}tum, 
ed. T. Fowler, p. 157: — ' P'ranciscus de Verulamio sic cogitavit ; 
talemque apud se rationem instituit, quam viventibus et posteris 
notam fieri ipsorum interesse putavit ' (ref. Biog. Lit. 1847). The 
sentence in our text beginning with these words ('from the lofty', 
&c.) has, in the original edition of the Biog. Lit., no conclusion. 
The words following the quotation from Pindar ('there was a gradual 
sinking', &c.) were added by the editors of the second edition. 

Page 42 1. 2. all men being supposed able to ?-ead. Cp. Southey's 
complaint (Letter to J. Rickman, Alch. 1804) that 'everybody is 
a critic, that is, every reader imagines himself superior to the 
author, and reads his book that he may censure it, not that he may 
profit by it'. (Southey's Life and Correspondence, ii, 277.) 

II. St. Nepomuc. St. John of Nepomuc (1330-1383), patron 
saint of Bohemia, and Canon of the metropolitan chapter of Prague. 
The enmity of the Emperor Wenceslaus (the causes of which are 
disputed) led to his persecution, and finally to his death by drown- 
ing in the Moldau. The story alluded to in the text is told in J. 1\ 
Richter's Blunien-, Frucht- u. Dornensiiicke, Nr. v (ref. Biog. Lit, 


13. St. Lecilia. Her position as patron saintof music is gene- 
rally ascribed to the fact that ' in singing the praises of the Lord, she 
often joined instrument to vocal music '. I do not know from what 
source Coleridge's account of the legend is drawn. Another version 
is given by Herder ('Caecilia,' Werke, ed. Suphan, v. 253), who 
bases the tradition on a monkish misinterpretation of the Latin in 
the Acta Caeciliae. 

21. the uftique ^" Cid\ Southey's Cid (1808) consists of 
a translation of the Spanish Cronica del Cid (thirteenth century), 
enriched with incidents and descriptions borrowed from the Poeiii 
of the Cid (twelfth century) and the ballads of which the ' Cid ' is 
the hero. The same subject had already attracted Herder in 
Germany. (See Life and Comspondence of R. S., vol. iii, ch. xiii 
and xiv.) 

P.\GE 43 1. I. half a dozen or more playful poems. Such are the 
' Devirs Thoughts ' written in conjunction with Coleridge, and 
published with additions as 77;«? DeviTs IValk in Southey"s Col- 
lected Poetical Works, the Nondescripts, Gooseberry Pie, &c. All 
these pieces were written before 1800. 

25. I knoiu ?wthino that surpasses the 7'ileness, &c. This style 
of criticism is again animadverted on in ch. xxi, conclusion. Cp. 
A. P. 1803 (p. 30), on 'the head-dimming, heart-damping principle 
of judging a vvork by its defects, not its beauties'. 


Notes, Chapter III 2,21 

Page 44 1. 13. //// . . . ike revieivers siipport their decisions, &c. 
Cp. Coleridge's suggestions in ch. xxi, for the establishment of 
a revievv which should ' administer judgement according to a con- 
stitution and code of laws ' grounded ' on the twofold basis of 
universal morals and philosophic reason '. 

27. Haec ipsi iioviinus esse niJiil. The motto prefixed by 
Southey, at Coleridge's suggestion, to his Minor Poe/ns, 1815. Cp. 
letter to Southey, Dec. \7()(){Letters, p. 317), ' On this I am decided, 
that all the lio;ht pieces should be put together under one title, 
with a motto thus : " Nos haec novimus esse nihil — Phillis amat 
Corylos " '. 

30. the prudery of Spratt. Sprat, the biographer of Cowley, 
refused to publish his letters, on the ground that ' Letters that pass 
between particular F"riends, if they are written as they should be, 
can scarce ever be fit to see the light '. (See Life prefixed to 
Works, 1668.) Johnson remarks of this biography that ' Sprat's 
zeal of friendship, or ambition of eloquence, has produced a funeral 
oration rather than a history'. (Johnson, Lives of the Poets \ 

Page 45 1. 24. the articles of his couiposition in the revietus. 
Southey was invited by Jeffrey to contribute to the Edin. Revieiu, 
but declined. When the Quarterly was established, chiefly through 
the efforts of Sir Walter Scott, in 1809, Southey was asked to write 
for it. He accordingly sent an article to the first number, and sub- 
sequently became a regular contributor, although he regretted the 
resemblance of the review in tone and temper to the Edinburgh. 
See Life and Correspofidence of R. S., iii. 124, 222. 

F. N. the articles on Methodism, &:c. See the Ouarterly Revieiv, 
Xov. 1810, Art. xiii, On the Evangelical Sects j and Oct. 181 1, 
Art. XV ; Life and Correspotidence of R. S., iii. 303, 319. 

Page 46 1. 3. zf7ve except the highest lyric . . . he has attenipted 
cvcry species successfully. Coleridgc's privately expressed opinion 
of Southey's poetry was hardly so favourable. As early as 1796 
{Letters, p. 210) he had cr\i\<:\ztd foan of Arc unfavourably. To 
Payne Collier he said, in 181 1 (Preface to Payne Collier"s edition 
of the Lectures on Shak^speare (1859), pp. xxiv, xxv), that 'he looked 
upon the Ciirse of Kehama as a work of great talent, but not of much 
genius'; and to Crabb Robinson he declared {Diary, &c., MS. 
March 13, 1811), that 'he deemed him (Southey) not qualified to 
appreciate Spanish poetry. He was a jewel-setter ' ; and (Jan. 29, 
MS.) that ' neither Southey nor Scott were poets'. See, however, 
T. T., p. 338 (ed. 1858), for praise of The Curse of Kehania. 
10. claims. Apparently a misprint for charms. 

Page 47 1. 2. Publicly has Mr. Southey been reviled, &;c. See 
reference to Anti-Jacobin at the end of this chapter. The tone of 
the crilicisms in the Edin. Reviezv {s&t previous note) hardly merits 


222 Btographia Literaria 

such severe language as this. Here, again, we must suppose that 
Coleridge refers to more obscure periodicals. 

Page 48 1. l8. the diaracter luliich an antient attributes to 
Marcus Cato. ' — homo virtuti simillimus, et per omnia ingenio Diis 
quam hominibus propior, qui numquam recte fecit, ut facere vide- 
retur, sed quia aliter facere non potuerat.' Vell. Paterc. ii. 35 
(quoted Biog. Lit. 1847). This conception of the truly virtuous 
character was, it may be remarked, also Coleridge's, and on it he 
grounded his difiference from Kant's Stoic principle, ' Duty for 
Duty's sake.' {Letters, p. 681, &c.) 

Page 49 F. N. my opportunities of intercoursc. Since their 
quarrel over Pantisocracy in 1795, the intercourse between Southey 
and Coleridge had been fitful. They saw much of each other from 
time to time in the years 1800-1804, and again in 1808-10; since 
then they had scarcely met. Southey was estranged by Coleridge's 
failings, of which he ahvays thought and spoke with more justice 
than charity ; and Coleridge was no doubt keenly alive to his want 
of sympathy. To Coleridge's family Southey was always kindness 

the Beauties of the Anti-Jacobin. See the poem entitled 
The NcTv Morality, written by Canning and published in the 
Atiti-Jacobin for July 9, 1798, and in the Beauties of the Anti- 
Jacobin, 1799. I^i the note to which Coleridge refers {Beauties, 
Sr^c, p. 306) Lamb and Southey are mentioned, but not Lloyd. 
The attack on Coleridge and his friends was renewed in the Anti- 
Jacobin Review and Magazine, August and September, 1798. (See 
the Life of C. Lamb, by E. V. Lucas, i. 36 ; The Poetry of the 
Anti-Jacobin, td. C. Edwards, pp. 271, 299.) 


Page 50 1. 12. the two volumes so entitled. * Lyrical Ballads. 
With other Poems. In Two Volumes, by W. Wordsworth. 1800.' 
Vol. i contained the poems of the first edition (1798), with the 
addition of Love : vol. ii the new poems, which were all by 
Wordsworth. The first edition was published as one volume. 

Page 51 1. 2. acute notices of men and manners, Scc. Cp. 
ch. i. p. II, where the merits of the school of Pope are charac- 
terized in similar terms. 

29. In the critical remarks, therefo7-e, &c. The justice of this 
remark is bome out by the tone of the various reviews of Words- 
worth's poems in the Edinburgh Revieiv. The critics speak of 
' the debasing effects of this miserable theory', ' the open violation 
of the established laws of poetry ', &c. ; and cite the weakest 
verses to confirm their censures. (See Edin. Rev., Oct. 1802, Oct. 

Notes, Chapter IV 223 

Page 52 F.N. The bull namely consists. See A. P. 1803 (p. 40) 
for an example of ' that curious modification of ideas by each other 
which is the element of bulls ' ; and A. P. p. 156, on 'bulls of 
action '. 

Page 53 1. 10. the co))iposition luhich one cited as execrable, &c. 
Wordsworth had the same experience among his critics. See 
Meinoirs of Wordsroorth, by Christopher Wordsworth, i. 174, 
where he cites a number of these ' Harmonies of Criticism'. 

PaGE 54 1. 32. Marini (i 569-1625), a poet of the later Italian 
Renaissance. ' The conceits of Marini and his imitators followed 
inevitably from a vigorous application of rules that denied to poetry 
the right of natural expression ' (Symonds, Roiaissance in Jtaly, 
ii. 257). 

Page 55 1. 14. the contest . . . between Bacchus and the frogs. 
Aristoph. Ranae, 225-7, 257-66. 

F. N. Ifiije Diay judge froin the preface, &c. Coleridge is no 
doubt thinking of the Essay Stipple))ientary to the Preface, 181 5, 
in which Wordsworth records his distrust and contempt of the 
judgement of the Public, as opposed to that of the People. (O. IV. 
P- 953-) 

Page 56 I. 18. During the last year of )ny residotce, &c. 
Wordsworth's Descriptive Sketches were published in 1793, ^'^^ 
Coleridge was already acquainted with them in the autumn of 
that year. The 'last year of his residence ' was 1794. (See Social 
Life at the English Universities, by Christopher Wordsworth, 
1874, Appendix; Life, pp. 25-6, 41.) 

19. Mr. WordswortKs first publication. The Evening Walk 
was also published (separately) in 1793. 

33. a greater closefiess of attentio)i, &c. Cp. Biog. Lit. i. 3 (of 
his own early poems) : ' I forgot to inquire, whether the thoughts 
themselves did not demand a degree of attention unsuitable to the 
nature and objects of poetry.' 

I. 35. In the folloiving extract. (See Descriptive Sketches, 
II. 332-47 {O. W., p. 6a8). For ' deeper ' in I. 2 read ' deepening ' ; 
and, instead of II. 3-5 in the quotation, the following : 

And mournful sounds, as of a Spirit lost, 
Pipe wild along the hollow-blustering coast, 
Till the sun walking on his western field 
Shakes from behind the clouds his flashing shield. 

Page 57 F. N. an unpiMished poe)n. The Butterfly (1815 ?). 

Page 58 I. I. / was i)i ))iy twentyfourth year, &c. See Life, 
p. 64 n. * The precise date of the first meeting of Coleridge and 
Wordsworth (a point which has been discussed) has not been ascer- 

224 Biographia Literaria 

tained, but a careful examination of all the evidence available, pub- 
lished and unpublished, has all but convinced me that it may have 
probably taken place as early as September, 1795. The men do 
not appear to have met a second time until the autumn of 1796, 
after which intercourse seems to have been niore or less frequent.' 
Coleridge was bom on Oct. 21, 1772. He is no doubt thinking 
of their second meeting. 

5. a manuscript poetii, ivhich still reinains unpiiblished. 
Coleridge speaks as if this poem was not the Feinale Vagrant ; 
but his memory is probably at fault. According to H. N. Cole- 
ridge {Biog. Lit. 1847, i. 76) 'the poem to which reference 
is here made was intituled, An advcnture on Salisbury Plain. 
Mr. Wordsworth afterwards broke it up, and the Feinale Vagrant 
was composed out of it.' The Feinale Vagrant was first published 
in Lyrical Ballads (1798). The whole poem was not printed 
until 1842, when it appeared in an amended form, in the volume 
entitled, Poeins chiejly of Early and Late Years. In a note 
prefixed to the poem, Wordsworch speaks as if it was composed 
after his visit to Sahsbury Plain in the summer of 1793: but in 
a later note (printed in the 1857 edition of his poems) he declared 
that much of the Female Vagrant's story was written at least 
two years before. The truth seems to be that an earher poem had 
been composed, deahng with particular events which had come to 
Words\vorth's notice, and that after his rambles on SaHsbury Plain 
he enlarged it and gave it the imaginative setting which those 
rambles had suggested. However this may be, it was in the com- 
pleter form that Coleridge first knew the poem. ' i\Ir. Coleridge,' 
writes Wordsworth in the later note, ' when I first became ac- 
quainted with him, was so much impressed with this poem, that 
he would have encouraged me to pubhsh the whole as it then stood ; 
but the mariner's fate appeared to me so tragical as to require 
a treatment more subdued and yet more strictly applicable in 
expression than I had yet given it. This fault was corrected nearly 
fifty years afterwards, when I determined to publish the whole 
poem.' Of the Fcinale Vagrant Wordsworth subsequently came 
to hold a very poor opinion. J. Payne Collier records [Diary, 
Feb. 10, 1814 : see his ed. of CoIeridge's Lectures, 1856, Preface Ji) 
that, on his praising the poem, Wordsworth said 'it was one on 
which he set comparatively small value: it was addressed to coarse 
sympathies, and had little or no imagination about it, or invention 
astostory'. He added that it was merely descriptive 'although 
the description is accurate enough '. How far the treatment of 
nature in the poem is merely descriptive, how far imaginative, in 
CoIeridge's sense of the term, the reader may judge for himself. 
Cp. Biog. Lit. ii. 16 ' It has before been observed, that images 
however beautiful, though faithfully copied from nature, and as 
accurately represented in words, do not of themselves constitute 
the poet ', &c. 

Nofes, Chapter IV 2.2.^ 

10. as the poet hath himse/f well described, &c. In the Lines 
coinposed afew iniles above Tintern Abbey, &c. They were written 
on July 13, 1798, and the following days. See especially the lines 

For nature then 
(The coarser movements of my boyish days 
And their glad animal movements all gone by) 
To me was all in all. — I cannot paint, &c. 
F.N. The quotation in footnote is from Descriftive Sketches, 
11. 317-24. The italics are, of course, Coleridge's. 

PaGE 59 1. 15. the original gift, &c. Thus the style of poetry 
assigned to Wordsworth in the Lyrical Ballads had as its object 
' to give the charm of novelty to things of every day ', &c. (See 
Biog. Lii. ii. 6.) 

20. Tofind no contradiction, &c. This passage is taken with 
omissions from The Friend {iZoq-io), No. 5 ; but the same thought 
is recorded in almost the same language in A.P. 1S03 (p. 41). Cp. 
also letter to T. Wedgwood (Nov. i, 1800), ' That is a delightful 
feeling, these fits and trances of Novelty received from a long 
known object' {Tofn Wedgwood, by R. B. Litchfield, 1903, p. 105) ; 
and A.P. 1803 (p. 53), and 1810 (p. 233), ' The man of genius 
places things in a new light,' &c. 

Page 60 1. 8. Burjts' comparison, &c. See Burns' Tain 
0\Shnntcr, 11. 59 ff. : 

But pleasures are like poppies spread, 
You seize the flower, the bloom is shed : 
Or like the snow-fall in the river, 
One moment white — then melts for ever. 
Page 61 F.N. minijn immortal. This is an interesting anticipa- 
tion of the theory of the immortality of the Protozoon, which is 
considered to have been first definitely formulated by Weismann 
{Ueber die Daiter des Lebens, 1881). Coleridge no doubt had read 
of it somewhere, but I have in vain endeavoured to discover where. 

Page 62 1. 14 that of deli7'iitm from mania. Cp. T. 7"., June 23, 
1834, ' You can conceive the diff"erence in kind between the Fancy 
and the Imagination in this way — that if the check of the senses 
and the reason were withdrawn, the first would become delirium and 
the last mania.' In a manuscript note in Tenneman's Geschichte der 
Philosophie, Coleridge characterizes the state of dreaming as ' the 
shifting current in the shoreless chaos of the fancy in which the 
strea?niftg continuum of passive association is broken into zig-zag 
by sensations from within or from without' : and in A. P. 1803 (p. 55) 
he speaks of 'the streamy natureof association, which thinking curbs 
and rudders ', and ib. (p. 56) ' What is the height and ideal of mere 
association? Delirium.' The distinction of delirium and mania is 
thus characterized in the Aids to Reflection (Bohn's ed., p. 173), 



226 Biographia Litevaria 

' Mania . . . as distinguished from . . . delirium, . . . is the oc- 
cultation or eclipse of reason, as the power of ultimate ends': 
whereas delirium is classed with frenzy, idiocy, derangement, &c. 
(' the last term being used specifically to express a suspension of 
the understanding or adaptive power '). See also Biog. Lit. i. "j^jy 
where Coleridge, discussing Hartley's theory of association as a pro- 
cess in which the mind is entirely /^jj/w, remarks that 'either 
the ideas (or relicts of such impression) will exactly imitate the 
order of the impression itself, which would be absolute delirium ; ■ 
or', &c. ; and Crabb Robinson, Dicif-y, &;c., Nov. 15, 1810. In his 
lecture on Cervantes (1818; Lectttres, ^. 107) Coleridge attempts 
a classification of kinds of madness. 

16. ' Li(tes, lobsters, seas o/ fnilk.' The actual line is 
Lutes, laurels, seas of milk and ships of amber 

(Otway, Venice Preserved, Act v). 
Coleridge quoted this line to C. Robinson {Diary, &c., Nov. 15, 
1810) as an instance of ' fanciful delirium '. 

18. ' What .' have his daughters^ &c. Lear, Act iii. sc. 4 
(omitting 'What'). Coleridge says elsewhere, speaking of this 
scene in Lear as an illustration of imagination, that ' the deep 
feelings of a father spread ingratitude over the ver^' elements of 
heaven '. And Wordsworth, in illustrating the ' human and dramatic 
imagination', quotes Lear's words 

I tax ye not, ye Elements, with unkindness, 

I never gave you kingdoms, called you daughters. 

{Preface to Poems, 1815 : O. IV., p. 957.) 

Page 63 6. the belief that / had been the first of my cotintry- 
vien. It does not appear that any stress is to be laid on the words 
'of my countrymen ' in this sentence. I cannot discover that 
Coleridge was indebted to any other mind (except in a certain 
degree, to Wordsworth's) for the distinction of fancy and imagina- 
tion as it at first occurred to him. The German words ' Phantasie ' 
and ' Einbildungskraft ' have never, so far as I can find, been 
definitely appropriated to these respective meanings, and either of 
them may still be used indifferently to express CoIeridge's ' imagina- 
tion', although 'Einbildungskraft ' could hardly bear the sense of 
' fancy '. The distinction made by Jean Paul in his Aesthetik 
between 'Einbildungskraft' and ' Phantasie ' (according to which 
the former is a 'potentiated brightly-coloured memory', whereas 
the latter is the power of 'making ?[\\parts into a whole') certainly 
recalls Coleridge's distinction : but it is impossible that he is in 
any way indebted to J. Paul, whose Aesthetik, t\&n in 1817, he had 
' but merely looked into '. And for Coleridge it was always the 
word ' Einbildungskraft ' which denoted the higher faculty. (See 
Biog. Lit. ii. 107 and note, and A. P. 18 10, p. 236.) 

9. Mr. W. Taylot^s recent volume of synonymes. ' British 
synonymes discriminated, by W. Taylor, 1813.' His distinction of 


Nofes, Chapfer IV 227 

Fancy and Imagination, quoted by Wordsworth in the preface to the 
1815 editionof his poems, is thus stated : — ' A man has imagination 
in proportion as he can distinctly copy in idea the impressions of 
sense : it is the faculty which images in the mind the phenomena 
of sensation. A man has fancy in proportion as he can call up, 
connect, or associate at pleasure the internal images (^ai/Tdfeti' is to 
cause to appear) so as to complete the ideal representations of 
absent objects. Imagination is the power of depicting, and fancy 
of evoking and combining. The imagination is formed by patient 
observation : the fancy by a voluntary activity in shifting the 
scenery of the mind.' On this distinction Wordsworth thus com- 
ments: ' It is not easy to find out how imagination, thus explained, 
dififers from distinct remembrance of images : or fancy from quick 
and vivid recollection of them : each is nothing more than a mode 
of memory.' 

F.N. the moral sophisms of Hobbs. See Hobbes's Treatise on 
Liberty and Necessity. As H. N. Coleridge {Biog. Lit. 1847) points 
out, the term obligation is not used by Hobbes. The distinction 
itself he could not make, because for him it did not exist : he simply 
denied the possibility of any spring or source of action except 
extemal necessity. 

Page 64 I. 12. it was Mr. Wordsworth's purpose. This is 
evident from an examination of the Preface of 1815 : in which it is 
Wordsworth's primary object to justify and explain tbe classifica- 
tion of certain of his poems, according to the powers requisite for 
their production. His remarks on the two faculties he introduces 
thus : ' Let us now come to the consideration of the words Fancy 
and Imagination, as employed in the classification of the following 
poems.' To the classification as a whole Crabb Robinson justly 
objected, on the ground that it was ' partly subjective, and partly 
objective'. {Diary, &c., Apr. 16, 18 1 5.) 

17. My friendhas draivn a masterly sketch ofthe branches, &c. 
The need of a more philosophical distinction will probably be felt 
by most readers of Wordsworth's Preface, who will agree with 
Crabb Robinson that Wordsworth gives but an ' obscure discri- 
mination ' of the two faculties. Robinson had the advantage, how- 
ever, of many conversations with Wordsworth on the subject, and 
it may be well to record his ' own impression ' of Wordsworth's 
meaning. 'The poet first conceives the essential nature of his 
object, and then strips it of all casualties and accidental individual 
dress, and in this he is a philosopher, but to exhibit this abstraction 
nakedly would be the work of a mere philosopher; therefore he 
reclothes his idea in an individual dress which expresses the essen- 
tial quality and has also the spirit and life of a sensual object. And 
this transmutes the philosophic into a poetic exhibition.' {Diary,&c., 
MS. May 31, 1815.) Andagain(June3, 1815) : 'FromWordsworth's 
definition it results that fancy forms casual and fleeting combina- 

Q 2 

228 Biographia Literaria 

tions in which objects are united, not in a permanent relation which 
subsists and has its principle in the capacity of the sensible form 
to stand in the place of the abstract intellectual conception, but in 
a voluntary power of combination which only expresses the fact of 
the combination with Httle or no import beyond itself.' As an 
instance of the imaginative principle, Wordsworth quoted from 
TJie Ctickoo : 

Shall I call thee Bird, 
Or but a wandering voice ? 
* as giving local habitation to an abstraction.' He further quoted 
The Yew Trees and A descriptioti of Night as 'best for the 
imaginative power displayed in them' {Diary, &c., May 9, 1815): 
while The Kitten atid Falling Leaves he termed 'an exhibition of 
Fancy '. The subject was renewed when Robinson visited Words- 
worth in 1816 (see Diary,8ic., Sept. 10, 1816), and Robinson, so far 
as he understood Wordsworth's definition of the imagination, con- 
ceived it as ' the faculty by which the poet conceives and produces 
— that is, images— individual forms, in which are embodied uni- 
versal ideas or abstractions '. He adds that ' Wordsworth repre- 
sented, much as unknown to him the German philosophers have 
done, that by the imagination the mere fact is exhibited in connec- 
tion with infinity '. 

26. the jiidicious aiithor . . . saw nevertheless occasion. The 
following quotations are taken from Hooker's Ecclesiastical Policy, 
Bk. I, ch. i. § 2 (ref. Biog. Lit. 1847). 


Page 65. Coleridge's discussion of association in this and the 
following chapters is primarily undertaken with the view of dis- 
covering the true nature of fancy : but as usual his interest in the 
subject leads him beyond the limits imposed by his actual purpose. 

Page 66 1. II. Gassendi. Pierre Gassendi (1592-1656), French 
philosopher and mathematician. He attempted to revive and im- 
prove the system of Epicurus, and attacked Descartes from the 
standpoint of ' sensuahstic materiaHsm '. 

Hobbs. Thomas Hobbes (l 588-1679), the father of the English 
' sensationahst ' school. His chief philosophical works are the 
Treatise on Huinan Nature (1650) and the Leviathan (165 1). 

PaGE 67 1. 2. Sir Janies Mackintosh (1765-1832), poHtician and 
philosopher. Coleridge had early made his acquaintance through 
his intimacy vvith the Stuarts and Wedgwoods, but both as a man 
and a philosopher he found Mackintosh thoroughly unsympathetic. 
See the Tivo Round Spaces on the Tombstone {Poet. Works, p. 157), 
a satirical poem which had Mackintosh for its object, printed 
in the Morning Post, 1800; and letter to T. Poole, 1804 {Letters, 

Notes, Chapter V 229 

p. 454). Mackintosh was in all probability the * Papinianus' of the 
motto of the Lyrical Ballads. See A.P., p. 126. In 1833 {T. 7"., 
Ap. 27) Coleridge called him ' the King of the men of Talent '. 
Cp. A. P., p. 198. 

7. ihe lectures delivered by hini, &c. Lectures on the laivs of 
Nature and Nations, delivered in 1799. See Memoirs of Sir J. 
Macktntosh, by his son, i. 100. 

32. L deny Hobbs^s clainiintoto. Hobbes's Treatise on Hunian 
Nature was published in 1650 ; the French version of Descartes' 
Discourse on in 1637, the Latin in 1644. But in 
neither edition is there any statement ofthe law of contemporaneity 
of impressions. H. N. Coleridge {Biog. Lit. 1847, i. 91) draws 
attention to this error on CoIeridge's part, and also to an incidental 
allusion in a posthumous work of Descartes {Tract. de Hotnine, 
V. ']'^, as his first definite statement of the principle. The fact that 
Hobbes could not have been indebted to Descartes in the matter 
was also pointed out by Sir James I^Iackintosh in a note appended 
to his Dissertation on the progress of Ethical Philosophy — a note 
provoked by CoIeridge's allusions to him in the Biog. Lit. 

35. Hobbs builds nothitig, &c. Hobbes's statement of the rule 
occurs in ch. iv of Hunian Nature : ' The cause of the coherence 
or consequence of one conception to another, is their first coherence 
or consequence at that time when they are produced by sense.' 
As Sir James IMackintosh points out in his note, Hobbes builds on 
this foundation nothing less than ' a general theory of the under- 
standing '. 

Page 68 I. 6. greatly as he too in his after luritings, &c. 
Coleridge here underrates the importance of the ' animal spirits ' 
in Descartes' physiology, and indeed in his whole system. They 
are essential to his conception of the soul as the exclusive pos- 
session of man. (See Biog. Lit. 1847, i. 92; ]Mahafify's Descartes, 
p. 175; Kuno Fischer, Descartes and his School, p. 415.) 

7. De la Forge. A physician and physiologist, and friend of 
Descartes, whose doctrines he developed in the direction of Occa- 
sionalism. His work, On the Huinan Soul, itspowers andactivities, 
&c., was published in j666. (See Kuno Fischer, Descartes &c., 
p. 578.) 

10. tn hts interesting work, De Methodo. This story is told, not 
in the De Methodo, but in the Principia, Pt. iv (p. 508, ed. Cousin) ; 
and told, moreover, not as an illustration of the law of contempo- 
raneity, but as one of many proofs that ' the soul, not as existing in 
the different limbs, but as existing in the brain, is by the aid of the 
nerves made sensible of what happens to the body in its various 
members'. This inaccuracy on Coleridge's part is clearly pointed 
out by his nephew and editor (Biog. Lit. 1847, i. 93), who adds that 
' he has never been able to find in the writings of Descartes any- 
thing coming up to the statement in the text (Descartes was led 

230 Btographta Literaria 

by this incidcnt, &c.) '. The existence of pain in an amputated 
niember is also referred to in the Meditaiions as illustrating the 
illusiveness of the testimony of the senses. (See Kuno Fischer, 
Descnrtes, &c., p. 370.) 

34. His system is briejly fhus. Cp. Leviatha», i. 3. ' AU 
Fancies are Motions within us, reliques of those made in the 
sense : and those motions that immediately succeeded each other 
in the sense, continue also together after sense.' Cp. also Human 
Nature, chs. ii, iii, iv. 

PaGE 69 1. II. It follows of necessity, Scc: i. e., because the 
mechanical relation of cause and efifect demands immediate prox- 
imity in time of the phenomena so related. 

F. N. t/ic word ' idea '. In classical Greek, I8ea usually signifies 
either 'outward form or appearance ', or ' kind, sort, or fashion ' 
(cp. fTfpav vixvoiv I8iav, Aristoph. Ranae). H. N. Coleridge {Biog. 
Lit. 1847, i. 95) quotes Ihia koKov {Olytnp. xi. 121), ^fXTiovas avbpas 
. . . rfjv Ideav (Aristoph. Pltlt. 559) and r]v K 1) Idta avTod u>s daTpanf] 
(Matt. xxvii. 3). In all these instances the sense of Iden is not so 
much the ' visual abstraction of a distinct object ' as the actual 
appearance of the object seen. For Plato's conception of the i8eat, 
as the divine archetypes of perishable forms, cp. Meno, 82-86, 
Phaedo 73-79, Republic 507 B, 508 E, 569 seq. 

Our English ivtiters to the end of Charles 2nd^s telgn. 
Johnson [Dict. s.v. ' idea ') quotes Hooker : ' Our Saviour Himself 
being to set down the perfect idea of that which we pray and wish 
for': wheie idea = ideal. So Campion (1602), 'the Idea of her 
sex.' For Coleridge's own definition of ' idea' cp. ^rsiLay Sermon 
{The Statesman' s Manual) Appendix E. (' It is the antithesis 
not the synonym of fiSMXof ') ; T. T., Aug. 29, 1827, and Church 
and State, 1839, pp. 12 IT. See also Notes on Church Divines, i. 

305» 321. 

ihe following . . . fro)n Bishop Jeremy laylor. From 
Sermon XII of the twenty-seven preached at Golden Grove (ref. 
Biog. Lit. 1847). See Notes on Church Divines, i. 321. 

Lock adopted the term. Cp. Essay concerning Human 
Understanding, Introd. § 8 : ' I have used it (the word Idea) to 
express . . . whatever the mind can be employed about in thinking.' 

Hume distinguishing those representations, &c. See Hume's 
Treatise of Human Nature, Bk. i, Pt. i, § l ('Of the origin of our 
ideas') ' Those perceptions which enter with most force and 
violence we may name impressio?ts ; and under this name I com- 
prehend all our sensations, passions, and emotions, as they make 
their first appearance in the soul. By ideas I mean the faint 
images of these in thinking and reasoning,' &c. See also the 
Ettquiry, Sect. ii, p. 18 (ed. L. A. Selby-Bigge). 

Page 70 1.4. I^ong however before either Hobbs. In the 1847 
edition (i. 97 n.) it is pointed out that in the substance of this 

Notes, Chapter V 231 

paragraph and in some part also of his remarks upon Aristotle's 
conception of the association of Ideas (in this and the following 
chapter) Coleridge draws upon the Versiuh iiber die Ein- 
bildungskraft of J. G. E. Maass (1797) (pp. 343-6), an annotated 
copy of which was found among Coleridge's books. jNIaass (1766- 
1832) was for many years Professor of Philosophy at Halle. He 
belongs to the group of thinkers who reacted against Kant in the 
direction of Wolfifian rationalism. His chief interest, however, lay 
in empirical psychology. As there is no question of any deep 
intellectual affinity between Maass and Coleridge, it is not of im- 
portance to discuss Maass' standpoint in detail. But he agrees 
with Coleridge in his approval of the Aristotelian, and disapproval 
of the Hartleian psychology of association, and it is from Maass' 
confutation of Hartley and interpretation of Aristotle that Coleridge 
has most largely borrowed. 

6. Melatichthon (1497-1560) more famous as a theologian and 
leader of religious reform than as a philosopher. He published, 
however, in 1540, a treatise De Anima , which went through many 

Ammerbach. Vitus Amerbach (1487-1557), a distinguished 
German scholar, Professor of Philosophy at Ingolstadt. He 
published a work on the soul — De Anima — (1542) and one on 
natural philosophy — De Philosophia Naturali—{\^\Z). 

Liidoviciis Vives (1492-1540), philosopher and humanist. He 
lectured at the University of Oxford, and was for many years 
patronized by Henry VIII. His writings were chiefly directed 
against scholasticism. In vol. ii of his works (Bale, 1555), pp. 
497-593, is his treatise De Anima et Vita, to which Maass refers. 

by Melanchthon, Ammerbach, and Ludovicus Vives j more 
especially by the last. Coleridge is here probably quoting from an 
imperfect memory of the following passage in Maass (p. 343) •• — 
* Among the first to whom this merit belongs (of instituting 
empirical psychology) were Melanchthon, Ammerbach, and Lud. 
Vives, whose psychological writings were published all together 
by Getzner (Zurich, 1662). But far the most was done by Vives. 
He bas brought together many important observations upon the 
human soul, and made^striking remarks thereon. More especially 
in the theory of the association of representations, which Melanch- 
thon and Ammerbach do not bring forward at all, he displays 
no ordinary knowledge ' (ref. Biog. Lit. 1847). 

7. Phantasia, it is to be noticed, &c. Cp. Lud. Vives, De 
Afiima et Vita {Opera, tom. ii. p. 509 ; Basil. 1553). ' The action of 
the imagination in the mind is the same as that of the eyes in the 
body, viz. to receive images by merely looking' (ref. Biog. Lit. 


14. the lato by whtch the thoughts are . . . prescnted. This 
as well as the other quotations are to bc found in Maass, who also 
points out that the * springs ' are only apparent. 

232 Biogmphia Literaria 

Page 71 1. 13. ''De A)iiina\ '•De Memona'. To Aiistotle's chief 
psychological work, the De Anima, the Parva Naturalia forms 
a kind of appendix, where a number of subsidiary but important 
questions are discussed, which the De Anima left untouched. 
Among them occurs the De Memoria — ' The httle work on Memory 
and Reminiscence — in which the laws of association are laid down 
with a clearness scarcely to be looked for outside modem philo- 
sophy.* (Aristot. De Anima, ed. Wallace, Introd. xv.) 

20. successive particles propagating motion like billiard-balls. 
There is no mention of bilHard-balls in Hobbes's discussion of the 
subject {Human Nature, chs. ii, iii); but he speaks of objects 
producing motions in the brain, which are apparently indistinguish- 
able from the thoughts or images themselves. 

25. the followers of Des Cartes. Descartes' theory of the soul 
residing in the brain was developed by some of his followers in 
a materialistic direction— that is, they identified soul and brain : 
and thus we get the purely mechanical psychology of the French 
eighteenth century materiahsts. (Cp. Kuno Fischer, Descartes, 
(S:c., p. 493.) Cp. Coleridge's ' Theory of Life' {Misce/lanies, p. 375) : 
' Should the reader chance to put his hand on the " Principles of 
Philosophy," by La Forge, an immediate follower of Descartes, 
he will see the phenomena of sleep solved in a copper-plate 

29. as Hartley teaches. See Hartley's Observations on Man, 
ch. i, sect. i (esp. Props. i-v). 

Page 72 1. 10. he carefully distinguishes thein from material 
motion. Cp. Bk. ii, ch. iii of De Anima, which is devoted to 
a refutation of the theory that movement is a characteristic of the 
soul. The phrase Kivria-eis iv tottco (movement in space) occurs in 
this chapter, and t6 KaTo. tottov Kivr^TiKov (local movement) is also 
mentioned (ii. 3, §§ 1-4) as one of the powers of animals, distinct 
from To biavoTjTiKov. The word klvt](T€ls is frequently used in the 
De Metnoria to denote psychical processes. 

13, he excludes place and motion. Cp. De Anim. ii. 3, in 
initio : ' For perhaps it is not merely false that its being is of such 
a kind as they affirm, who say that the soul is that which moves 
itself, or can move, but it may be an absolute impossibility that 
motion should be a quality of the soul ' (quoted in INIaass ; see 
Biog. Lit. 1847, i. 104). 

16. The general law of association. Aristotle does not state the 
law in so many words. (Cp. De Memoria 2. 451^' 16, 452^ 3, 452-^ 28.) 
He is discussing ava.[xvr](jis (recollection) only, and he thus analyses 
the process : 'When engaged in recollection, we seek to excite some 
of our previous movements, until we come to that which the move- 
ment or impression of which we are in search was wont to follow ' 
(2. 4511^ 16). See Wallace, ib. Introduction, xcv, (S:c. 

23. he admits fivc agents. ISIore properly four — similarity. 

Notes, Chapter V 233 

contrast, and connexion in time or space. He continues, ' Hence \ve 
seek to reach this preceding impression, starting in our thought from 
an object present to us, or something else, whether it be similar, 
contrary, or contiguous to that of which we are in search ; recollec- 
tion taking place in this manner, because the movements are in one 
case identical, in another case contrary, and in the last case over- 
lap ' (Wallace, ib.). 

27. As an additional solution. Coleridge here seems to have 
confused Maass' account of this matter with that of Aristotle. It is 
Maass who gives this explanation of ' The occasional seeming 
chasms ' : ( Versuck, &c., pp. 28-9 ; Biog: Lit. 1847, i. 107.) 

Page 73 1.25. Among thesevolumes,&.c. Sir James Mackintosh, 
in the note above referred to {Dissertation on the Progress 0/ 
Ethical Philosophy, Note S), points out that the story about Hume 
vvas a mistake — the handwriting was not his, nor the book the 
Parva Naturalia. He further observes, not without reason, that 
Coleridge, in his discussion of AristotIe's theory of association, fails 
to note that it is brought forvvard in explanation of one mental 
process only— that of recollection. But CoIeridge's contention is, 
that, as far as the passive element in them is concerned, memory 
and fancy, and indeed all the faculties of thought are identical. It 
is in the use which each makes of its material that they differ. 

28. // remains thenfor me. Of the inquiry which he here sets 
before himself, Coleridge failed to carry out more than the prelimin- 
ary stage — viz. the confutation of mistaken theories of association, 
and the statement of what he conceives to be its true nature. In 
the ' philosophical disquisition ' of ch. xii he takes a fresh start. 

p Page 74 I. 2. sounding on my dim and perilous way. Coleridge 

■ is thinking of the lines in The Excursiott (Bk. iii. 700-1) — 
The intellectual power, through words and things, 
VVent sounding on, a dim and perilous way ! 


PaGE 74 I. 4. Hartlefs hypothetical vihrations. See the Obser- 
vations, Pt. i, Ch. i, esp. Prop. 5 ; Hartley and James Mill, by 
G. G. S. Bower, p. 28, &c. As early as 1801, Coleridge had written 
to Poole that he had overthrown the doctrine of association, as 
taught by Hartley. His disbelief in it had been growing for some 
time. See Introduction, pp. xxix ff. 

10. Reiinarus. J. A. Reimarus (1729-1814), physician, and 
Professor of the Moral Sciences at Hamburg ; a philosopher of the 
rationalistic school. The passage to which Coleridge refers is pro- 
bably a passing refutation of materialism in §§ },-'] of a treatise 
Ueber die Griinde der menschlichen Erkenntniss und der naiiirlichcn 
Religion [Biog. Lit. 1847, vol. i, App. note B). His father, H. M. 

234 Biographia Literaria 

Reimarus, was the author of a vvork entitled Observations, Moral 
and Fhilosophical, on the Instinct of Ani/nals, their Industry, and 
their Manners, of which Coleridge thought highly. See A. P. 1804 
(pp. 91-2). 

16. ive niust beiuilder ourselves, &c. Cp. Coleridge's note 
to his lines in Southey's Joan of Arc (first edition, 1796): 
' Who deem themselves most free ', &c., from which this sentence 
is taken verbatim, except for the significant substitution of fancy 
for imagination (quoted by Cottle, Early Recollections of S. T. 
Coleridge, ii. 242). See also Biog. Lit. i. 91, 1. 21 and note. 

20. Pythagoras. See Zeller, Die Phil. der Griechen, Leips., 
1892, p. 349 : ' This is the meaning of the fundamental doctrine of 
the Pythagoreans : everything is number, that is, everything con- 
sists of numbers : number is not merely the form which determines 
the compositionof things, but is also the substance and the material 
of which they consist.' Their theory of numbers was also appHed 
to musical notation. (Ib., 401 ff.j 

21. Plato. For Plato's mathematical and musical symbols 
see Timaeus, 35 B-36 B, 47 A ; Rep., 443, 531 ; Zeller, Plato and the 
Older Academy, Trans., p. 348 and note ; Jowett, Plato, Rep., 
Introd., cxxx (The Number of the State). 

24. metaphysical systems . . . become popular. Cp. letter to 
Wordsworth (May 1815), Letters, p. 649: ' The philosophy of 
mechanism, which . . . cheats itself by mistaking clear images for 
distinct conceptions ' : a fallacy to which Coleridge had drawn 
attention nearly twenty years before, in a note to his contribution 
to Southey's yi3rt« of Arc, quoted above : 'We are restless because 
invisible things are not the subjects of vision.' 

29. Froni a hundred possible confutations let one suffice. This 
particular confutation is borrowed from Maass. {Versuch, &c., 

PP- 32, 33-) 

30. According to this system. See Observations, Pt. I, Ch. i, 
Prop. 22. 

Page 75 1. 10. the ideas are the/nselves in Harthys system. 
Hartley does not go so far as actually to identify vibrations and 
ideas. But he makes the ideas subject to the same processes of 
motion and change, and governed by the same laws, as the vibra- 
tions ; and Co]eridge's argument is therefore not invalidated. See 
Observatio/is, Pt. I, Ch. i, Prop. 2 : ' The white medullary substance 
of the brain is also the immediate Instrument by which the Ideas 
are presented to the mind : or, in other words, whatever changes 
are made in the substance, corresponding changes are made in our 
ideas : and vice versa'; and see ch. \, passi/n. 

PaGE 76 1. 14. his work has bee/i re-edited by Priestley. 
Hartley's Theory of the Hu//ian Mind on the P/-i/iciple of the 
Associatio/i of Ideas : loith Essays relati/tg to the subject of it. 
By Joseph Priestley, LL.D., F.R.S. London, 1775. In the Preface 

Notes, Chapter VI 235 

(p. iv) Priestley declares that it is his object to make Hartley's 
system clearer ' by exhibiting his theory of the human mind, as far 
as it relates to the association of ideas only, omitting even uhat 
relates to the doctrine of "(.'ibradons^ and the anafoinical disqiii- 
sitions which are connected with it'. See also the First Introductory 

23. Haitley li/as constrained, &c. See the Odseruations, Pt. I, 
Ch. i, Prop. 10 : ' Sensations may be said tobe associated together, 
when their impressions are either made precisely at the same Instant 
of Time, or in the contiguous successive Instants.' Cp. also Bioo^. 
Lit. i. 69 : ' Hobbs . . . must have reduced all its forms to the one 
law of time.' 

Page 77 1. 4. oiir luhole life xuould be divided, &c. Cp. Letters, 
p. 428 (Aug. 1803) : ' If I had said no one idea ever recalls another, 
I am confident that I could support the assertion.' And marginal 
note in Maass, p. 29 (quoted Biog. Lit. 1847, i. 116), to Maass' 
statement that ' Every representation calls back its total asso- 
ciation': 'Rather is capable, under giveit conditio7ts, of rccalling : 
or else our whole life would be divided between the despotism of 
outward impressions and that of senseless memory '. An interesting 
note on the power of association over the will is to be found in 
A. P. 1804 (p. 64), where Coleridge attributes lack of volitional 
energy to ' the streamy nature of the associative faculty ', and adds, 
in confirmation of his statement, that ' it is evident that they labour 
under this defect who are most reverie-ish and streamy— Hartley 
(CoIeridge's child), for instance, and myself . 

18. luhich would be absolute delirium. Cp. note on Biog. 
Lit. \. 62, I. 15. 

Page 78 1. 2. ^? year or two before iny arrival at Gottingen, 
Coleridge reached Gottingen in Feb. 1799. 

Page 80 I. 3. this, perchance, is the dread book. Cp. Crabb 
Robinson, Diary, &c., July 12, 1819: ' Coleridge has the striking 
thought that possibly the punishment of a future life may consist 
in bringing back the consciousness of the past.' 

II. But not now darc I longer discourse, &c. In almost 
precisely similar terms ^Coleridge excuses himself in the concluding 
lines of the Essays on the Principles of genial criticism, from the 
further pursuit of an equally recondite subject. The quotation from 
Plotinus occurs Ennead I. Lib. 6, §§ 4 & 9. 

Page 81 1. 13. the Grimalkins in the Cat-harpsichord. See 
Thc Spectator, No. 361, April 24, 1712 : ' A dissertation upon the 

1 7. // involves all the dijfficulties . . . of intercommunion, &c. 
Cp. Letters, Jan. 1804 (p. 454), where Coleridge speaks of ' the 

236 Biographia Literaria 

sophism . . . that all have hitherto — both the Necessitarians and 
their antagonists— confounded two essentially different things under 
one name '. 

Page 82 1. 20. well inight Builer say. Cp. Butler, Misccl- 
laneous Thoughts, 11. 93-102. 

35. iny friend Allston. Washington AUston, the American 
painter, for whom see Biog. Lit. ii, 223 n. 

Page 83 1. 27. The process by which Hume degracied the notion 
of cause and effect. See the Enquiry, Sect. vii, ' On the Idea of 
necessary connection' (ed. Selby-Bigge, pp. 60-79) and Editor's 
Introd., p. XV ; the Treatise, Pt. III, Sect. XIV and XV. 

PaGE 84 1. 3. the proofs of the existence and attributes of God. 
Pt. ii, Ch. i, of the Observations: 'Of the Being and Attributes of 
God, and of Natural Religion.' 

II. the fiith . . . is a collective energy, a total act, &c. In 
1796 {Letters, 202), Coleridge thus defined faith: 'By faith I under- 
stand, first, a deduction from experiments in favour of the existence 
of something not experienced, and secondly, the motives which 
attend such a deduction.' And he adds : ' Now motives, being 
selfish, are only the beginning and the foutidation, necessary and 
of first-rate importance, yet made of vile materials and hidden 
beneath the splendid superstructure.' In 1810 he stated to Crabb 
Robinson {Diary, iS:c., MS. Dec. 20) his opinion that * Religious 
Belief is an act, not of the understanding, but of the will. To 
become a believer — one must love the doctrines and must resolve 
with passion to believe.' And in the Essay on Faith (supplementary 
to Aids to Reflection, pub. 1825), faith is defined as 'fidelity to our 
moral being— so far as such being is not and cannot become an 
object of the senses ' ; further, ' It subsists in the synthesis of the 
Reason and the individual Will ' : and ' by virtue of the latter . . . 
it must be an energy, and inasmuch as it relates to the whole 
moral man . . . must be a total, not a partial — a continuous, not 
a desultory or occasional — energy '. See also Biog. Lit. i. 134 ff. ; 
ii. 216 ('what we can only k?tow by the act of becoming') ; and 
Letters, p. 710 (1820). 

28. Tvho deein themselves niost free, &c. These lines 

originally appeared in the passages contributed by Coleridge to 
Southey'sy^(Z« of Arc in the firstedition, 1796: they were removed 
from later editions, and incorporated by Coleridge in his Destifty 
of Nations. The footnote appended to them in the foan of Arc 
(referred to in the last chapter) was not subsequently reprinted. 

Page 85 I. 7. the mistakitig the conditions of a thing for its 
causes rt;/^essence. For this, thefundamental errorwhich Coleridge 
ascribes to Locke, cp. letter to Brabant, 181 5 {Westin. Rev., April 
1870, p. 354) : ' Locke's whole book is one (jj^\(j\ia (Tepo^rjTrjafas, 

Notes, Chapter 171 237 

the fallacy that the soil, rain, air and sunshine make the Wheat- 
stalk and its ear of corn, because they are the conditions under 
which alone the seed can develope itself;' and Btog. Lit. i. 94: 
'The first book of Locke's Essays . . . involves the old mistake 
of " cum hoc ; ergo propter hoc ".' 

17. Leibnitz Lex Contimci. This law, 'la loi de la continuit^' 
(' Natura non agit saltatim ') is first laid down by Leibnitz in his 
Lettre a M. Bayle sur im Principe Ce'ne'ral, &c. {Opera, ed. Erd- 
mann, i. 104 ; ref. Biog. Lit. 1874). 

29. let a nian ivatch his mind Tvhile he is coniposing : cp. ' On 
Thinking and Reflection' {Miscellanies, p. 252): ' Who has not 
tried to get hold of some half-remembered name, mislaid as it 
were in the memory, and yet felt to be there ? ' and the opening 
paragraph of the 'Essay on Beauty' [Biog. Lit. ii. 250). What 
Coleridge here calls the passive faculty would in modern phraseology 
be termed the ' sub-conscious mind '. 

Page 86 1. 8. an intermediate faculty, (ic. Cp. Kant's definition 
of the 'productive imagination' {Kritik der r. Vernimft; Werke, ed. 
Hartenstein, iii. 126), and Schelling, IVerke, l. i. 357, 

9. In philosophical langtiage, &;c. This parenthesis seems out 
of place here, forestalling, as it does, the promised deduction of 
chapter xiii. 

18. Nothing . . . can be more easy, &c. Coleridge's argument in 
this paragraph may perhaps be more briefly restated thus : — if any 
impression A recalls any other impression B, our consciousness of 
A is, necessarily, inseparable from our consciousness of B : that 
is, the act of association is 07ie\ but it does not, therefore, follow 
that originally the two impressions were co-temporaneous, or that 
only those impressions, which originally occurred in one moment 
of time, can recall each other. 

Page 87 I. 5. The act of conscioitsness is itideed, &c. Cf. A. P. 
1803 (p. 57) : ' Free unresisted action, the going forth of the soul, 
life without consciousness, is, properly, infinite, that is, unlimited. 
For whatever resists limits, and whatever is unresisted is unlimited. 
This, psychologically speaking, is space, while the sense of resist- 
ance or limitation is time, and motion is a synthesis of the two.' 

24. a debasement of the fancy. Cp. Coleridge's definition of 
fancy given to Crabb Robinson {Diary, &c., Nov. 15, 1810) : 
' Fancy is the arbitrary bringing together of things which lie 
remote, and forming them into a unity.' A system of training 
which relies upon such arbitrary and artificial associations cannot 
(such appears to be Coleridge's meaning) ensure an objectively 
true representation of things. It encourages/amz/^^^/connexions. 

F. N. intensify. Coleridge, it seems, may fairly lay claim to 
the origination of this term : and usage has justified his choice. 

238 Biographia Liieraria 


Page 88 1. 8. Des Cartes was the Jirst philosopher, See the 
Principia, ii, § I ; and Cousin's introduction to his edition of 
Descartes, p. 26; Mahaffy's Descartes (Blackwood), pp. 156-7. 

14. has been long exploded, Leibnitz [Lettre sur la 
qtiesiion, &c. ; CEtevres, Erdmann, i. 113) defined matter as 
possessing not only mobility (the capacity of movement), but also 
resistance (which includes impenetrability and inertia). See 
Biog. Lit. 1847, i. 131. Sara Coleridge (ib.) compares this passage 
with Schelling, Abhandlutigen sur Erlduterting des Idealismus 
der Wissefischaftslehre {IVerke, I. i. 343; see especially pp. 375 
foll.) ; and the System des traiiscendentalen Idealismus (ib. I. iii. 

Page 89 1. 5. Leibnitz^s doctrine of a pre-established^ hannony. 
See Leibnitz's works passim ; but esp. the Troisieme Eclaircisse- 
ment du nouveau Systhne, where occurs the famous comparison 
of the body and soul to two watches, which keep perfect time with 
each other. The conception of a pre-established harmony Leibnitz 
claimed as his own : and he here demonstrates its superiority over 
the rival theories of mutual influence and of occasionalism, (See 
also Stir le principe de la Vie, Thdodicee, § 61.) But the idea had 
already occurred to Descartes' disciple Geulinx, who wavered 
between the theories of pre-established harmony and of occa- 
sionalism, and who, I believe, was the first to use the illustration 
of the two watches (or clocks). 

6. which he certainly borroived fro?n Spinoza. Spinoza no- 
vvhere clearly formulates this doctrine. Even the principle of the 
parallelism of mind, as thought, and body, as extension, he seems 
to deny almost as frequently as he admits it. See Dr. Martineau's 
Study of Spinoza, pp. 135, 182, 239, 287. 

7. Des Cartes^s aiiiDial machines. In order to substantiate his 
distinction of soul and body, Descartes maintained that all the 
vital or bodily functions were purely mechanical, the result of heat 
and motion. 'I desire you to notice,' he writes {Tract on Man, 
concluding summary), 'that these functions follow quite naturally 
in the (animal) machine from the arrangement of its organs, 
exactly as those of a clock, or other automaton, from that of its 
weights and wheels ; so that we must not conceive or explain 
them by any other vegetive or sensitive soul,' &c. It is doubtful, 
however, whether this doctrine furnished any hints to Spinoza. 
The animal spirits, it is true, he accepts from Descartes ; but this 
hypothesis, so far from assisting the theory of parallelism, really 
assumes an interaction between body and mind. (Descartes, 
Tassions, i, §§7-16; Mahaffy, ib.pp. 175-7; Martineau, ib. pp. 182-3; 
Kuno Fischer, ib. p. 415.) 

13. IVolf the admircr and illustrious systematizer, Christian 

Notes, Chapter VIII 239 

Wolf (1679-1754), founder of the German rationalistic school of 
philosophy. Although he owed much to Leibnitz, Wolf had not 
sufificient imagination to penetrate to the true meaning of his 
theories ; and his own system is at once more and less than an 
exposition of that of Leibnitz. 

16. The hypothesis of Hylozoism. Cp. A. P. (1800?), p. 14 : 
' MateriaHsts, unwilling to admit the mysterious element of our 
nature, make it all mysterious — nothing mysterious in nerves, 
eyes, &c., but that nerves think, &c. ! Stir up the sediment into 
the transparent vvater, and so make all opaque ! ' 

29. But it is not either the natitre, &c. In the following para- 
graph (as is pointed out Bio^^. Lit. 1847, i. 133), Coleridge has 
drawn upon Schelling's Transc. Id. {Werke, I. iii. 406-7), and 
the Abhandlungen, &;c. {Werke, I. iii. 379). Sara Coleridge also 
compares the introduction to ScheIIing's Ideen ztt einer Philosophie 
der Natur ( We7'ke, I. ii. 25). 

Page 91 1. 5. Hke a God by spiritual art. Slightly altered from 
CowIey's 'AII over Love' : — 

But, like a God, by powerful art, 
'Twas all in all, and all in every part. 

21. the propensity so comvion amoiig inen. Cp. p. 74, I. 25 
and note ; Letter to Wordsworth (181 5), Lettejs, p. 649 ; and 
r. T., May 15, 1833. 

28. Even so did Priestley. This controversy was made public 
in the form of a printed correspondence in 1788. The two oppo- 
nents were intimate friends, and both liberals in theology ; but 
while Priestley was a materialist and necessitarian, Price upheld 
the free agency of man and the immateriality of the soul : antici- 
pating in his ethical doctrines some of the fundamental ideas of 
Kant. (See Leslie Stephen, Eng. Thought in the Eighteenth 
Cetitury, under ' Priestley ' and ' Price ' ; Price, A Review of the 
Principal Questions in Morals ; Priestley, Disquisitions relating 
to Matter and Spirit, &c.) 

PaGE 92 I. 2. the Productive LogOS human atid divine. 
This work (CoIeridge's magnum opus) is, according to Mr. Dykes 
Campbell, first mentioned in a letter of Sept. 18 14, when Coleridge 
writes that his morning hours are devoted to a great work printing 
at Bristol at the wish of two friends. ' The title is Christianity, 
the one True Philosophy ; or Five Treatises on the Logos, or com- 
municative Intelligence, natural, human, and divine.' He adds, 
' The purpose of the whole is a philosophical defence of the Articles 
of the Church, so far as they respect doctrine, as points of faith.' 
(Zz/>, p. 207; Letters, p. 632.) There is, however, a t^uox public 
allusion in the Essays on Criticism, published in Bristol in Aug. 18.14. 
(See Biog. Lit. ii. 230.) 

240 Biographia Literaria 

In 1818 (Leliers, p. 697) Coleridge speaks of ' the great philo- 
sophical work to which the best and most genial hours of the last 
tvventy years of his life have been devoted'. Again, in 1821 he 
prays for tranquillity to carry out his ' noblest undertaking, which 
when completed will revolutionize all that has been called Philo- 
sophy or Metaphysics in England and France since the era of the 
commencing predominance of the mechanical system at the restora- 
tion of the Second Charles' (see Life, p. 247). And, in the last 
years of his life, his sole motive for wishing to live is that he may 
be able to complete this work [T. T., July 10, 1834). 

In his undoubtedly sincere efforts to carry out this life-work, 
Coleridge received much assistance from his friend John Henry 
Green, the eminent surgeon and philosopher, whose acquaintance 
he made in 1817, and to whom on his death he gave sole power 
over his literary remains. Out of the philosophical material thus 
entrusted to him Green endeavoured to build up Coleridge's 
philosophical system. The result of his efforts is contained in the 
Spiritual Philosophy, founded on the teaching of the late S. T. 
Coleridge\ 2 vols., 1865. But the materials at hand were insufificient 
for the task, and the Spiritiial Philosophy is far from containing 
a complete statement of CoIeridge's doctrines. It is more than 
doubtful, indeed, if this was ever clearly formulated in CoIeridge's 
own mind — if the ' scraps and Sibylline leaves ' of his speculations 
were ever gathered into a comprehensive whole. And the causes • 
of his failure lay no doubt as much in the nature of the work as 
in the nature of the worker. In the free development of his 
philosophical views Coleridge was inevitably hampered by his 
desire to adopt them to a particular body of religious doctrines. 
Of actual contributions to the magnuni opus the following are ex- 
tant: (l) two large quarto volumes on formal logic, (2) a portentous 
introduction, (3) a commentary on the Gospels and some of the 
Epistles, (4) innumerable fragments of metaphysical and theological 
speculation. (See Letters, p. 632 n, ; Life, p. 251.) For a brief 
account of the scope of the system, see T. T, Sept. 12, 1831 ; 
July 25, 1832 ; Letters, p. 715. 

14. a dreatn ivorld of phantotns, &c. Cp. Schelling's Abliand- 
lungen, &c. {VVerke, I. i. 362). 

23. // ivould be easy to explain. Sara Coleridge compares 
the Introduction to Schelling's Ldeen ztt einer Phil. der Natur 
{IVerke, I. ii.). 

3 1 . rt« ansiver to the whence ? and ivhy ? is no ansiver to the 
hoiv? &c. Cp. Goethe (Eckermann, Gesprdche, Feb. 1831) : ' To 
inquire after the purpose, to ask Why ? is wholly unscientific. But 
the question How? may help us on a little,' &c. The same 
thought underlies Coleridge's distinction in the ' Theory of Life ' 
{Miscellanies, pp. 379^0!!.), between accountingfor and explaining 
a fact of experience. 

Notes, Chapter VIII 241 

Page 93 F. N. And Coxcotnbs vanquish Berkeley with a grtti. 
From the ' Essay on Satire, occasioned by the death of Mr. Pope ', 
by John Brown (published in vol. ii of \Varburton's Pope), pt. ii, 
1. 224. 


Page 93 1. 21. -ivitkout Leibnitz^s qualifying Praeter ipsum 
intellectum. ' On m'opposera cet axiome regu parmi les Philosophes : 
que rien n'est dans Tame qui ne vienne des sens. Mais il faut 
excepter rime meme et ses affections. Nihil est in intellectu, quod 
non fuerit in sensu, excipe : nisi ipse intellectus.' Leibnitz, Nou- 
veaux Essais sur P Entendement Humain, liv. ii, c. I (ed. Erdmann, 
i. 223 : ref. Biog. Lit. 1847). 

23. in the same sense in which the position was understood: 
i.e. in the sense that all intellectual processes are in their essence 

23. what Htime had demonstratively deduced. (See the note 
to p. 83, 1. 27.) 

Page 94 1. 8. the supposed error which it labors to subvert : 
i.e. the existence of innate ideas. 

24. The early study of Plato and Plotinus. While yet at 
Christ's Hospital, Coleridge, according to Lamb, was deep in the 
Neo-platonists (see the famous passage in Lamb's essay Chrisfs 
Hospital fve-and-thirty years ago). With Plato he no doubt 
became acquainted in the ordinary course of his studies. The 
earliest reference to him which I have been able to find is a not 
highly complimentary allusion to his conception of life, in a letter 
to Thelwall in 1 796 {Letters, p. 21 1) : ' Plato says it (life) is harmony. 
He might as well have said a fiddlestick's end : but I love Plato, 
his ^^diX^gorgeous nonsense.' It was, no doubt, his early conversion 
to Platonic idealism that carried Coleridge beyond the standpoint 
of the critical philosophy : cp. letter to J. Gooden in 18 19 {Notes and 
Lectures, &c., ed. Sara Coleridge, 1849, p. 273). 

26. the illustrious Florentine. rvlarsilius Ficinus (1433-91, 
author of Theologia PJatonica seu de i)nuwrtalitatc animorum. 
The enthusiasm for Plato in Florence in the days of Cosimo dei 
Medici, due to the influence and teaching of Gemistius Pletho, led 
to the foundation of a Platonic academy, of which Marsilius was 
made president. He published a Latin translation of PIato's works. 
But his ovvn system, developed in the Theologia, owes more to the 
later Platonists of the Alexandrian school. 

27. Proclus (412-485 A.D.), the most famous of the Athenian 
Neo-platonists, from whom Neo-PIatonism received its final ex- 
pression. Cp. Crabb Robinson {Diary, &c., May 3, 1812): 'Along 
tirade in which Coleridge declared that when he first began to 
think on philosophy he set out from a passage in Proclus— at the 


242 Biographia Literaria 

point where Schelling appears to be, and where, with modifications, 
he, Coleridge, has remained.' 

Gemistius Pletho. More properly Gemistus or Pletho, Georgius 
(the second name was given him for his extraordinary erudition). 
A native of Constantinople, during the first half of the fifteenth 
century, he is chiefly memorable for having introduced Platonism 
to the Western World. In 1438 he paid a visit to Florence, and there 
bucceeded in inspiring Cosimo de Medici with his own enthusiasm 
for Plato, and finally in depriving Aristotle of the dominion which 
for eight centuries he had exercised over European thought. 

29. the philosopher of Nola. T. Giordano Bruno (1548-1600), 
the best known of the Italian philosophers of the Renaissance. His 
chief metaphysical works were Dc la causa, pnncipio ed uno and 
De Vlnfinito Universo e Mondi (both published in 1584). The De 
Immenso, &c., a later work (1591), is of more importance for an 
estimate of his philosophy. (See Schwegler, Hist. of Phil., ' Bruno '.) 
Bruno was burnt as a heretic in 1600. In April, 1801 {A. P., p. 16), 
Coleridge records that in two days he has read two works of Bruno, 
the De Immeiiso, &c., and the De Monade, Numero, et Figura. 
Of the latter he remarks, ' It was far too numerical, lineal, and 
Pythagorean for my comprehension. It read very much like 
Thomas Taylor (i.e. the translator of Plotinus) and Proclus,' &c. 
' The poems and commentaries in the De Itnmenso et Innumerabili 
are,' he adds, ' of a very dififerent description. The commentary is 
a very sublime enunciation of the dignity of the human soul accord- 
ing to the principles of Plato.' 

who could boast of a Sir Philip Sidney, &c. Bruno made the 
acquaintance of Sidney and Fulke Greville during his residence in 
England in the years 1583-4. See A. P. (ib.) : ' Sir P. Sidney and 
Fulke Greville shut the doors at their philosophical conferences 
with Bruno.' Sidney is introduced in the ' Cena de la Ceneri ', or 
Ash Wednesday Conversationj which was written in these years. 
(Biog. Lit. 1847, i. 144.) 

Page 95 I. I. the reception and welconiing of the Cogito quia 
sum, &c. According to this statement, CoIeridge's introduction to 
the Cartesian philosophy does not fall before 1801. It is not im- 
probable that he studied Descartes, alongside with Kant, during the 
years of his residence at Keswick. Cp. manuscript note in Southey's 
copy of Omniana (1812) on the words 'I am that I am ', and 
Southey's comment ' I am who I am, is better ' : — ' No, the sense of 
that is = because or in that. Afiirming myself to be, I am, Causa 
sui. My own afifirmation is the ground of my own existence.' 

7. the Teutonic theosophist, Jacob Behmeti. According to 
Southey's statement in 1808 {Life, p. 165 n.) the succession of 
Coleridge's philosophical idols was — Hartley, Berkeley, Spinoza, 
Plato, and Boehme ; the last of whom ' had some chance of coming 
in' when Southey had last seen Coleridge (i.e. in 1804). But the 

Notes, Chapter IX 243 

study of Boehme and his fellow mystics probably began in the 
years 1795-8 (see Gutch Memorandum Book, Brit. Museum 
Library), and was carried on side by side with Coleridge's specula- 
tions in necessitarianism, to which fas Coleridge here tells us) it 
provided an antidote. 

Coleridge's various statements as to his debt to Boehme are 
not entirely reconcilable. To Lady Beaumont he wrote, ' For 
myself, I must confess I never brought away from his (Boehme's) 
works anything I did not bring to them ' {Memorials of Coleorton, 
Jan. 1810). On the other hand, Crabb Robinson reports {Diary, &c., 
May 29, 1812) that, speaking of Schelling, Coleridge declared that 
* all Schelling had said he (Coleridge) had thought out for himself, 
or found in Jacob Boehme '. See also Biog. Lit. i. 103 : ' My 
obligations to Boehme have been more direct.' In the Coleorton 
letter just quoted, Coleridge adds : 'The most beautiful and orderly 
development of this philosophy (which endeavours to explain all 
things by an analysis of consciousness, and builds up a world in 
the mind out of materials furnished by the mind itself, is to be 
found in the Platonic Theology of Proclus.' From this passage, 
and our knowledge of his early study of Proclus, we may perhaps 
conclude that it was Proclus who prepared Coleridge for Boehme, 
as Boehme prepared him for Schelling. A critical account of 
Boehme was one of the subjects proposed by Coleridge for Thc 
Friend oi 1809-10 {Mcmorials of Coleorion, ii. 107), but abandoned 
owing to the untimely decease of that journal. See Aids to Reflec- 
tion, Bohn's Library, p. 258. 

21. While I in part translate, &c. Portions of the two follow- 
ing paragraphs, as far as the words 'William Law', are, as Sara 
Coleridge {Biog. Lit. 1847) has pointed out, freely translated from 
Schelling's Darlegimg des ivahre^i Verhdlinisses der Natiir-Philo- 
sophie zii derverbesserten Fichte' schen Lehre {IVerke, L vii. 1 19-20). 
Thequestion of Coleridge'splagiarisms from Schelling is too complex 
to be fuUy entered into here. Those interested in it may consult 
(for the case against Coleridge) De Quincey's article in Tait's 
Mag., Jan. 1835 ; J. F. Ferrier's in Blackwood' s Mag., xlvii. 287- 
99, and Mr. J. ^L Robertson's Essay on Coleridge in his Essays 
towards a new critical Method; and (for the defence) Archdeacon 
Hare's reply to De Quincey in the British Mag. vii (15-27), and 
Sara Coleridge's Introduction to Biog. Lit. 1847. 

I cannot myself feel that Coleridge is guilty either of insincerity 
or self-deception, when he declares that the similarity of his philo- 
sophical standpoint to that of ScheUing is a matter of coincidence. 
'Inthe preface to my philosophical works,' Coleridge wrote in 1804, 
' I should say— " Once for all, read Kant, Fichte, &c., and then you 
will trace, or if you are on the hunt, track me". Why, then, not 
acknowledge your obligations step by step ? Because I could not 
do so in a multitude of glaring instances without a lie, for they had 
been mine formed and full-formed, before I had ever heard of these 

R 2 

244 Biographia Literaria 

writers, because to have fixed on the particular instances in which 
I have been indebted to these vvriters would hav-e been hard, if 
possible, to me who read for truth and self-satisfaction, and not to 
make a book, and who always rejoiced and was jubilant vvhen 
I found my ovvn ideas vvell expressed by others.' {A. P., p. io6.) 
And in the same spirit he vvrites {Biog. Lit. i. 105) : ' 1 regard 
truth as a divine ventriloquist : I care not from vvhose mouth the 
sounds are supposed to proceed, if only the vvords are audible and 
intelligible.' To these statements vve may add another (in a letter 
of 1816) : ' What I write must be my own to the best of my con- 
sciousness — the result of earnest meditation, and an insight into the 
principles'' \ and, if vve do not excuse his habit of plagiarism, we 
shall at least understand how it could be consistent vvith originality 
in the ideas expressed. Of this originality in Coleridge no man 
vvas more firmly convinced than his philosophical associate and 
interpreter J. H. Green, who, moreover, in the following words 
( Introduction to Co7tfessions ofa?i Enq uiring Spirzt) ,g\\'ts a striking 
confirmation of Coleridge's account of himself: ' For Coleridge 
truth vvas impersonal : and if he adopted from others it was because 
it vvas alien to the habit of his mind to consider the perception or 
discovery of truth as anything which belongs exclusively and ap- 
propriately to the individual.' And in a similar vein Green vvrites 
to Sara Coleridge : ' The unacknovvledged use of the quotations 
from Schelling in the B. L., which have been the pretext for 
branding him with the opprobrious name of plagiarist, are only 
evidences, in my humble judgement at least, of his disregard to 
reputation, and of a se/flessness . . . which caused him to neglect 
the means of vindicating his claim to the originality of the system, 
which was the labour of his life and the fruit of his genius.' For 
the rest, Coleridge in the following pages (pp. 104-5) shows himself 
willing enough to concede to Schelling the general credit of the 
ideas vvhich they shared ; and elsewhere he acknowledged, what 
indeed it would be unreasonable to deny, that he is not without 
real obligations to Schelling. (Cp. Letter to J. H. Green, quoted in 
note to p. 102, 1. 22.) 

Page 97 I. I. Be Thoyras. Sara Coleridge [Biog. Lit. 1847, 
i. 148) substituted Taulerus (the German mystic of the fourteenth 
century) for de Thoyras, * having reason to believe that the latter 
name vvas a mistake or misprint for the former.' And certainly 
there is no de Thoyras vvho could fittingly be classed with Boehme 
and George Fox. 

George Fox (1624-90), the founder of the society of ' Friends ', 
which absorbed the already existing societies of Behmenists, or 
followers of Boehme. 

Page 98 1. 3. And luhat he brings, &c. Milton, Par. Reg. iv. 


14. William Laiv (1686-1781), author of the Serious Call, ikc. 

Notes, Chapter IX 245 

( 1729). His mystical writings are the producl of his later years, and 
owe much to the influence of Boehme, whose works he became 
acquainted with in 1734. What is commonly known as Law's 
translation of Boehme's works is really a re-edition of the old trans- 
lation, undertaken in Law's memory by Ward and Langcake. 
(Brit. EncycL, ninth edition, art. Boehme.) 

Page 99 1. I. The Ethics of Spinoza. Cp. Hazhtt (Spirit of the 
Age, Coleridge). ' Spinoza became his God, and he took up the 
vast chain of Being in his hand . . . but poetry redeemed him from 
his spectral philosophy.' In 1803 Coleridge wrote of Spinoza : 
' If Spinoza had left the doctrine of miracles untouched, and had 
not written so powerfully in support of universal toleration, his 
ethics would never have brought on him the charge of Atheism. 
His doctrine, in this respect, is truly and severely orthodox in the 
reformed Church.' Cp. also the marginal notes on his copy of 
the Ethics (quoted partially in Dr. Martineau's Stiidy of Spinoza. 
and printed in the Athcnaeum, April, 1897), where Coleridge 
writes : — ' I cannot agree with Jacobi"s assertion that Spinosism 
as taught by Spinoza is Atheism. For though he will not consent 
to call things essentially disparate by the same name, and therefore 
denies human intelligence to the Ueity, yet he adores his Wisdotn, 
and expressly declares the identity of Love, i. e., perfect Virtue or 
concentric Will, in the human Being, and that with which the 
supreme loves himself, as all in all. It is true he contends for 
Necessity ; but then he makes two disparate classes of Necessity, 
the one identical with Liberty (even as the Christian Doctrine — 
" Whose service is perfect freedom"), the other Compulsion or 
SJavery.' See also Crabb Robinson, Diary, &.C., Dec. 20, 1810: 
Biflg. Lit. ii. 217. Yet to the end Coleridge classed Spinoza with 
the pantheists. See The Friend {\%\%), II. xi (Coleridge, Works, 
ed. Shedd. ii. 470); Letter to Brabant (181 5); Westni. Revieav, 
April, 1870; Crabb Robinson, 2?/«^/, &c., Nov. 3, 1812; and T. T., 
March 10, 1827, and April 30, 1830. From a letter to Stuart in 
1814 (Letters, p. 632), it appears that Coleridge contemplated a 
treatise on Spinoza and Spinosism, as part of the optis magnuni, 
to bear the title ' Logos Agonistes'. 

12. /mnianue/ A'ant (\724-\804). The works here mentioned 
were published in the following order: — The Cfitigne of Pure 
Reason (1781) ; the Metaphysical Elements of Natural Science 
(1786); the Critique of Judgment (1790); Religion withirt the 
bounds of Pttre Reason (1793 1. 

22. the chapter on original apperception. Kant's Werke, 
ed. Hartenstein, 1867, Bd. III. s. 114. 

Page 100 1. 3. the hair-breadth escapes of Wolf. WoIflPs teach- 
ingat Halle gave ofFence to his theological colleagues, who secured 
his expulsion from Prussia in 1723. On the accession of Frederick 
the Great in 1740, he was reinstated in his chair with ever)' mark 

246 Bwgraphia Literaria 

of esteem. Kant, too, came into conflict with the orthodox party in 
Prussia. In 1792, when his work on Religion luithm the boiinds of 
Pure Reason had been partly published in the Be7-linJo»r?ial, the 
pubhcation of the remainder was forbidden, and he was obliged to 
bring it out in Konigsberg. In consequence a pledge was exacted 
from him not to write again upon religious subjects, to which he 
adhered until the death of Friedrich Wilhelm II in 1797. 

4. The e.vpulsion of thefirst among Kanfs disciples. Coleridge 
is alluding to Fichte, who in 1798 was driven from Jena on a charge 
of Atheism, based on his preface to his friend Forberg's essay on 
the ' Development of the Idea of Religion '. In this paper (entitled 
' On the Grounds of our belief in a Divine Government of the 
Universe'), God is defined as the moral order of the Universe, the 
etemal law of right which is the foundation of our being : and any 
other mode of existence is denied to him. 

9. In spite therefore of his 07vn declarations. Sara Coleridge 
{Biog. Lit. 1847, i. 157) aptly compares these remarks upon Kant 
with Schelling, Abhancilung zur Ericiutcrung, &c. ( JVerhe, I. i.405). 

16. / entertained doubts likewise. Yet it is on this very point 
that Coleridge seems most sincerely at one with Kant, except 
indeed that for him the moral consciousness has a wider scope, and 
its evidence is 7nore convincing. Cp. Biog. Lit. i. 135, esp. 1. 36; 
ii. 216, and marginal note in Ttnxiem&ns Geschichte der Philosophie, 
vol. viii, where Coleridge complains that the Kanteans ' separate 
the Reason from the Reason in the Will, or the theory from tbe 
Practical man ', and adds ' Whether the object given in the Idea 
belongs to it in its own right as an Idea, or is super-induced by 
moral Faith, is really little more than a dispute in terms, depending 
on the Definition of Idea. . . . What more cogent proof (of the 
objective reality of the Ideas) can we have than that a man must 
contradict his whole human being in order to deny it ? ' 

Page 101 1. 5. Fichte's Wissenschaftsiehre. The theoretical 
portion of Fichte's system is contained in the Grundlage der ge- 
saminten Wissenschaftslehre (1794) and Grundriss des Eigenthiim- 
iichen d. Wisse7ischaftslehre (1794), and a general introduction to 
the whole system in the Begriff der Wissenschaftsleh7-e (1794). 
The practical philosophy is contained in the Gr7t7idlage des Natu7-- 
rechts (1796), and Syste^n der Sittenlehre (1798). 

6. by com77iencing with an aci instead of a fhing, i. e. the original 
Deed-act, or Thathand/ung by which the Ego afifirms itself as real. 
Cp. Letter to J. H. Green, 181 7 {Letters, p. 682) : ' Fichte . . . hath 
the merit of having prepared the ground for, and laid the first stone 
of, the dy7ia77iic philosophy by the substitution of Act for Thing, 
Der einfiih7'en Actio7ie7i (sic) statt der Di7tge a7i Sich.' 

14. rt c7-ude egois77ius, a boastfil . . . hostility to Nature. Cp. 
marginal note in Fichte's Besti77i7nung des Me7ischen (Brit. Mus. 
Library copy) : ' This man who, page after page, can rant away in 

Notes, Chapter IX 247 

the perfect silence of the human Consciousness, grounding all on an 
equivoque of the word I ! ' And further : ' The same contradiction 
between the Heart and the Reason — nay, worse than the Necessi- 
tarians. They preach the wisdom of considering the Assassin = the 
Dagger : but Fichte says that Duty or the law of Conscience is the 
Voice of God— that for man there is no other truth but this and in 
this : yet this very voice commands him to act, and feel what he 
knows to be a He and unjust. All this by a juggler's trick of 
dividing his individuality into the knowing and the acting [han- 
delnde) man ! ' 

Page 102 1. 7. Schelling^s Natur-Philosophie, &c. Schel]ing's 
/deen zii einer Phil. der Natur was first published in 1797 ; 
a second edition, a recast of the former {durchaus verbesserte 
Auflage) appeared in 1803. Schelling also published in 1799 
an Entivurf zu einem System der Natur-Philosophie : oder Ueber 
de?i Begriff der speculativen Physik. 

19. the dramatic lectitres of Schlegel. Cp. Bios^. Lit. i. 22 f. n., 
and note. 

22. all the main and fundamental ideas. Cp. letter to J. T. 
Coleridge, 1825 (Letters, p. 375) : ' All the elements, the differen- 
tials . . . of my present opinions existed for me before I had 
seen a word of German metaphysics, later than Wolf or Leibnitz. 
But what will this avail ? A High German transcendentalist 
I must be content to remain.' And to J. H. Green (1817 : Letters, 
p. 683) : ' As my opinions were formed before I was acquainted 
with the schools of Fichte and Schelling, so do they remain 
independent of them, though I con- and profess great obligations 
to them in the development of my thought, and yet seem to feel 
that I should have been more useful if I had been left to evolve 
them without knowledge of their coincidence.' And to Robinson 
he said {Diary, &c., May 3, 1812), that from Fichte and Schelling 
' he had not gained one great idea ', This assertion is in harmony 
with Green's own opinion. (See letter to Sara Coleridge, Biog. 
Lit. 1847, Introd. xxxiv.) 

PageIOS 1. 6. Schellinghas lately . . . avoived. This avowal was 
made, as Archdeacon Jiare first pointed out (see Biog. Lit. 1847, 
i. 164), some eleven years before. See Schelling, IVerke I. vii. 120 : 
' I am not ashamed of the names of many so-called enthusiasts, 
but I will avow openly and make it my boast that I have leamt 
from them, as soon as I can make that boast justly.' In 
a marginal note (date uncertain) to Schelling's Philosophische 
Untersuchungen iiber das Wesen der menschlichen Freiheit, &c. 
(quoted Biog. IJt. 1847, i. 303), Coleridge writes : ' How can 
I explain Schelling's strange silence respecting Jacob Boehme ? 
The identity of his system was exulted in by the Tiecks at Rome in 
1805, to me — and these were Schelling's intimate friends. The 
coincidence in the expressions, illustrations, and even in the 


248 Biographia Liferaria 

mystical obscurities, is too glaring to be solved by mere independent 
coincidence in thought and intention.' Here Coleridge seems to 
write in ignorance of Schelling's acknowledgement to Boehme. 
(See also Crabb Robinson, Diary, &c., Aug. 13, 1812.) 

F.N. Mr. Richard Sajmiarez, surgeon to the Magdalen Hos- 
pital, London. He also published A Dissertation on the Universe 
in general, and on the Procession 0/ the Elenients in particular 
(1796) ; Principles and Ends of Philosophy (181 1), and otherworks. 

Page 104 1. 4. Kanfs followers, &c. Cf. Schiller's epigram, 
' Kant's Ausleger ' : 

Wie doch ein einziger Konig so viele Bettler in Nahrung 
Setzt. Wenn die Konige bauen, haben die Karrner zu thun. 
9. To Schelling ive ozve, &c. Coleridge is here more com- 
plimentary to Schelling than of wont. Cp. Lelter to J. H. Green, 
xZi"] {Letters, 683) : ' Schelling is too ambitious, too eager to be the 
Grand Seignior of the alleiti-selig Philosophie to be altogether 
a trustworthy philosopher. But he is a man of great genius : and, 
however unsatisfied with his conclusions, one cannot read him 
without being ivhetted or improved ' : and marginal note to 
Schelling's Philosophische Utitersuchungen iiber das JVesen der 
7nenschl. Freiheit, &c. {Biog. Lit. 1847, App. I, 311) : ' The more 
I reflect, the more I am convinced of the gross materialism which 
underlies the whole system.' This note probably belongs to a later 
period in Colendge's life. C. Robinson [Diajy, &c., June 3, 1824) : 
' Coleridge metaphysized h. la Schelling while he abused him.' 

Page 105 1. 10. the ist vohune of his coUected Tracts. 
Schelling's Philosophische Schriften, Erster Band, Landshut, 1810 
(the on!y one published in this edition). 

12. a small paviphlet against Fichte. The Darlegung des 
wahren Verhdltnisses der Natur-Philosophie zu der verbesserteti 
Fichte^schett Lehre (1806) {IVerke \. vii, pp. 1-130). 

19. Albeit, I ttiust cotfess. Milton, The Reason of Church 
Governtnent urged agaitist Prelaty, Bk. II, ch. i (ref. Biog, Lit. 

Page 106 1. 7. Sitnon Grynaeus. The same passage is quoted 
in The Friend, 18 18 (Third Introductory Essay), with some differ- 
ence of reading. Simon Grynaeus (1493-1541) was a learned 
theologian and philologist of the Reformation. 

13. Est Diedius ordo, &c. Barclay's Argenis, Lib. I, Leyden, 
1630, pp. 63-4. There are (as is pointed out in Biog. Lit. 1847) 
some omissions from the original. 

22. As therefore physicians. From Hooker's Eccles. Polity, 
Bk. I, § 8, with omissions and slight alterations (ref. Biog. Lit. 

Page 107 I. 3. Che slo non erro, &c. Satire di Salvator Rosa, 
La Musica, I. i, 10 (ref. ib.). 

Notes, Chapter X 249 


Page 107 1. 9. Eseinplastic. Coleridge has been accused of 
borrowing this word from Schelling, who uses the phrase ' In- 
Eins-Bildung des Einen mit dem Vielen' [Darlegting des ivahren 
Verhdlttiisses der Natiir-Philosophie zu der verbesserten Fichte'- 
schen Lehre, 1806, pp. 61-2, Werke I. vii. 60], and ' In-Eins- 
Bildung des Realen und ld&a\tn' [Vor/esimgen iiber die Methode 
des academischeti Sttidiuins, Werke I. v. 348J. Coleridge was ac- 
quainted with the first of these works. But it is more probable 
that he coined the word himself from the suggestion given him 
by the German EinbiideJi, Einbildungskraft, the etymolog)' of 
which he misapprehended. See A. P. 1810 (p. 236) ; Btog. Lit. 
1847, i. 173- 

16. pedantry consists, &c. The following passage on the use 
of terms also appears, in slightly dififerent language, at the 
beginning of Essay III of the Essays On the Principles 0/ Genial 
Criticism {Biog. Lit. ii. 228J. 

PaGE 108 I. 23. Darivin in his Zoonojnia. Zoonomia, or Laws 
ofOrganic Life, by Erasmus Darwin (first edition : London, 1794-6). 

Page 109 1. 4. sensuous. 'A coined word, used by jNIilton.' 
Skeat, Etym. Dict. s.v. Hobbes uses sensual as = sensuous : so also 
Hooker (quoted in Johnson's Dict.). SeeA. P,, p. 123 : 'Our language 
wants ternis of comprehensive generality, implying the kind, not 
the degree or species, as in that good and necessary word sensuous, 
which we have likewise dropped, opposed to sensual, sensitive, 
sensible, &.C., &.c. 

9. intuition. (l) 'Ready power of perception': so used by 
Jeremy Taylor {Great Exemplar, i. 36, &c.) ; (2) ' perception 
divinely bestowed ' (J. Taylor, Wo?-thy Comnm?!., speaks of ' St. 
PauFs faith by intuition ' ; and Baxter of ' intuition of spirits ') ; 
(3) immediate perception of an object : so defined by Hooker in 
a passage quoted by Coleridge in Essay III of the Essays on 
Criticism. (See Biog. Lit. ii. 230.) 

14. objective and subjeciive. The old scholastic sense of 
' objective ', in which it is also used by Descartes and Spinoza, was 
nearly equivalent to the modern ' subjective '. Objective essence 
was opposed to ' formal esser.ce '. (See Hamilton's edition of Reid's 
Works, 1863, p. 803, f. n., where the history of the distinction 
is given.) 

19. encouraged and confirmed, &c. This distinction, as a dis- 
tinction of terms, is not clearly made by the seventeenth century 
divines, nor indeed before Kant ; but they recognize the distinction 
of things to which it corresponds. Cp. CoIeridge's Notes on 
English Di7'ines (1853 ed.), i. 18: ' In Hooker and the great 
divines of his age, it was merely an occasional carelessness in 


256 Biographia Literaria 

the use of the terms that reason is ever put where they meant 
the understanding ; for, from other parts of their writings, it is 
evident that they knew and asserted the distinction, nay, the 
diversity of the things themselves,' &c. See also pp. 60, 98, 263 ; 
ii. 139. The Cambridge Platonists laid great stress on the dis- 
tinction, and in this, as in the importance they attached to the 
divine witness of conscience, they may have prepared Coleridge 
for Kant. (See John Smith in Cainbridge Platonisis, ed. E. T. 
Campagnac, p. 139 ; Principal Tulloch, Rational Theology and 
Christian Philosophy in En^land in the Seventeenth Century, 

i. 381-) 

22. both life and sense, &c. Par. Lost, v. 485. For 'in kind 
the original has ' of kind '. Itahcs and capitals, it is hardly neces- 
sary to add, are CoIeridge's. 

Page 110 1. 5. To establish this disiinctioti was one main object 
of The Friend. To Stuart Coleridge spoke of The Fi-iejid a.s ' a work 
for the development of Principles' {Letters froin the L^ate Poets to 
D. Stuart, 1880, p. 117) : and in a letter to Estlin (Estlin L^etters, 
Dec. 1808) he writes : 'The first essay will be on the nature and 
importance of Principles. The blindness to this I have always 
regarded as the disease of this discussing, calculating. prudential 
age.' So too he wrote in the first number of The Friend: ' My 
object is to refer men to Principles in all things.' In the first issue 
of the Prospectus it is stated that one main purpose of The Friend 
is to provide ' Consolations and Comforts from the exercise and 
right apphcation of the Reason, the Imagination, and the Moral 
FeeHngs '. 

The distinction of Reason and Understanding may have been 
long familiar to Coleridge, but it was no doubt in Kant that he first 
learned its value as a weapon against the empiricists and necessi- 
tarians. In a letter to Poole (Jan. 1804; Letters, 454) he speaks 
of having found his way out of that labyrinth-den of sophistry 
(Necessitarianism), and of bringing with him 'a better clue than 
has hitherto been known, to enable others to do the same'. This 
* clue ' was no doubt the distinction of Reason and Understanding, 
which he had now scientifically formulated. In The Friend we 
have Coleridge's earliest expression of the distinction. (See Nos. 5 
and 9.) Here the Understanding is distinguished as the expe- 
riential faculty from Reason, or the sciential faculty. All morality 
is grounded upon Reason, without which man is a Thing. Reason, 
again, is defined as the faculty of the supersensuous ; Understanding 
as the faculty of the sensuous. Reason implies all that distinguishes 
man from the animals : the power of reflection, of comparison, of 
suspension of mind ; whereas Understanding is but the same faculty 
as the instinct of animals, with the addition of self-consciousness. 
For Coleridge's subsequent elaboration of the distinction, see The 
Friend (1818), ' First Landing-Place,' Essay V ; Aids to Reflection 

Notes, Chapter X 251 

(Bohn, XI, 135, 142, 143, 171); Siatesinaii^s A f auua/ {l8l6), Ap- 
pendix C; Letter to C. A. Tulk, Feb. 1821 {Leiters, p. 712); the 
Essay on Faith, (S:c. In 1830 (7". T., May 30) he spoke of the dis- 
tinction as the ' Gradus ad Phiiosophiam '. See, too, The Friend 
(1818), Sect. II, Essay II. 

7. a ivork, luhich was printed rather than •published. 
Coleridge refers to The Friend of 1809- 18 10, which was published 
at Penrith. The title-page ran thus — ' The Friend : a Literary, 
Moral, and Political Weekly Paper, excluding Personal and Party 
Politics and Events of the Day. Conducted by S. T. Coleridge of 
Grasmere, Westmoreland. Each number will contain a stamped 
Sheet of large Octavo, like the present ; and will be delivered 
free of expense, by the Post, throughout the Kingdom, to Sub- 
scribers. The Price each Number One Shilling. . . . Penrith : 
Printed and Published by J. Brown '. The ill-success of The Friend 
cannot be explained merely by the inconvenience of the subscription- 
list plan. The irregularity in publication, the slowness of transit 
between Grasmere and Penrith, and Coleridge's own apathy and 
dilatoriness, all contributed to its failure. And, apart from these 
external causes, the contents of The Friend were not calculated to 
appeal to alarge circle of readers. C^.A.P., p. 213 (1810), 'Thought 
and attention are very dififerent things. I never expected the former 
from the readers of The Friend. I did expect the latter, and was 
disappointed.' The first number appeared on June i, 1809; the 
last on March 15, 1810: only twenty-seven numbers were printed 
in all. (See Life., pp. 170-76 ; Letters, ch. 10.) For the business 
details of The Friend, as well as for Coleridge's objects in publishing 
it, Pt. III of the Letterfrom the Lake Poets to D. Stttart should be 

33. One gentlemaii procured vie 7tearly a hiindred names, Cp. 
Memorials of Coleorton, ii. 97, &c., where in a letter to Lady 
Beaumont, written in January, 18 10, Coleridge informs her that his 
' hopes concerning The Friend are at dead low-water ', and pro- 
ceeds to set forth the causes of its ill-success. According to this 
letter, the ' gentleman ' here alluded to was Mr. Clarkson ; but his 
words are somewhat differently given, the allusion to 'objects 
of Charity ' being ironically suggested by Coleridge himself 

Page 111 I. 20. On my list of siibscribeis. This story of the Earl 
of Cork is also told in the above letter, and to the same efFect. 

Page 114 1. 13. Toward the close of the first year. Coleridge 
left Cambridge about the middle of December, 1795. In the follow- 
ing December he undertook the conduct of The Watchman, the 
first number of which appeared in March, 1796. 

16. / was persuaded by siindry Pliilaitthropists, &c. It is 
probable that Coleridge was as much the persuader as the per- 
suaded. The ' sundry Philanthropists and Anti-polemists' probably 

252 Biogmphia Literaria 

included the rest of the ' Pantisocrats ' (Southey, Southey's friend 
George Burnett, and Lovell, who married Mary Fricker), and other 
friends, whom Coleridge had interested in the project (foremost 
among them Josiah Wade, who was kept constantly informed by 
Coleridge of the progress of his tour in search of subscribers). 

18. thai all might know the truth, &c. See copy of the 
original Prospectus {L(/e, Appendlx). T\i& flaviing prospectiis \.o 
which Coleridge here alludes was no doubt prepared specially for 
the tour. 

31. / was at that time, &c. Coleridge was converted to 
Unitarianism while an undergraduate at Cambridge in 1793. His 
conversion was due to the influence of W. Frend {Life, p. 25). In 
an early notebook (?i796) is the following entry : ' Unitarians 
travelHng from Orthodoxy to Atheism. Why ? ' And in a letter to 
George Fricker (1807.' CottIe's Re^niniscences, p. 339) he declares 
that 'disappointment in the only deep wish I had ever cherished' 
first forced him to question his Socinian creed. This may refer to 
the Mary Evans affair in 1794. Yet in 1797 he still thought of be- 
coming a Unitarian minister {Letters, p. 228), and in 1802 he wrote 
to Esthn ; ' If there be any meaning in words, it appears to me that 
the Quakers and Unitarians are the only Christians.' He adds, how- 
ever, that ' even of these I am sometimes jealous that some of the 
Unitarians make too much of an Idol of their one God'. And his 
wavering attitude appears in another letter of the same year {Estlin 
Letters, July, 1802) : ' My Confessio Fidei, as regards the doctrine of 
the Trinity, is negative Unitarianism — a 7ion liqnet concerning the 
nature and being of Christ.' So his daughter writes of him that 
' his Unitarianism was purely negative : not a satisfaction in the 
positive formal divinity of the Unitarians, but what remained to 
him to the last, a revulsion from certain explanations of the Atone- 
ment commonly received as orthodox '. In the same year (1802) he 
wrote {A. P., p. 26): ' Socinianism, moonhght ; Methodism, a stove ; 
O for some sun to unite heat and light! ' And in 1805 (Gillman's 
/Jfe, p. 160) : ' Seven or eight years ago, my mind then wavering in 
its necessary passage from Unitarianism . . . through Spinosism and 
Plato to St. John. This I now feel — that no Trinity, no God. That 
Unitarianism in all its forms is idolatry "... 'O that this conviction 
may work upon me and in me, and that my mind may be made up 
as to the character of Jesus and of historical Christianity, as clearly 
as it is of the Logos, and intellectual or spiritual Christianity '. It 
was not until his return from Malta that Coleridge definitely declared 
himself a Trinitarian (Cottle,AVw.pp.3i4-25). See alsoZ^<?, p. 165 ; 
Biog. Lit. i. 136. For his later opinion of Unitarianism, s&^Letters, 
p. 758 ; Emerson (on his visit to Coleridge) in English Traits ; and 
for Coleridge's explanation of his attraction to the doctrine, T. T., 
June 23, 1834. 

Page 117 1. 5. This took place at Manchester. Cp. letter to 

Notes, Chapter X 253 

Josiah Wade {Biog. Lit. 1847, Biographical Supplement., ii. 353), 

Jan. 1796: 'This morning I called on Mr. with H's letter. 

Mr. received me as a rider, and treated me with insolence 

that was really amusing from its novelty. " Overstocked with 

these articles." " People ahvays setting up some new thing or 

other." "I read the Star and another paper; what could I want 

with this paper, which is nothing more ?" "Well, well, ril con- 

sider of it." To these entertaining bon mots I returned the following 
repartee " Good morning, Sir." ' 

PaGE 110 1. 15. hotu opposite even then my principles ■zverc. 
According to Dr. Carlyon {Early Vears, &c., i. 27 : quoted, L^ye, 
p. 41) Coleridge while still at Cambridge had occasion to correct 
a misapprehension on the part of the Master of his College, 
by informing him ' that he was neither Jacobin nor Democrat, 
but a Pantisocrat '. And of the Conciones ad Populicm, delivered 
i" 1795) Coleridge wrote, late in Hfe: ' Except the two or three 
pages involving the doctrine of philosophical necessity and of 
Unitarianism, I see Httle or nothing in these outbursts of my 
youthful zeal to retract ' {Biog. Lit. 1847, ii. 346). And the author 
oiThe Watchman is certainly no Jacobin. In April, 1798, Coleridge 
writes to his brother George : ' A man's character follows him long 
after he has ceased to deserve it; but I have snapped my squeaking 
baby-trumpet of sedition, and the fragments lie scattered in the 
lumber-room of penitence.' And in 1803 (? : Cottle, Rem. p. iio) 
to Miss Cruikshanks : ' As to my principles they were at all times 
decidedly anti-Jacobin and anti-revolutionary.' His disappointment 
in the outcome of the Revolution found expression in France : An 
Ode, written in Feb. 1798. As appears from the Ode itself, it was 
the base treatment of Switzerland by the revolutionary leaders which 
moved Coleridge to this public recantation. But no doubt his 
sympathy with the French Govemment had been for some time 
on the wane. Their detention of the Netherlands provoked him 
to a strongremonstrance in 1796. (See The IVatchman, April, 1796.) 
But his assertion, made in 1832 {T. T., July 23, 1832), * Before 
1793, I clearly saw, and often enough stated in public, the 
vile mockery . . . of tbe whole affair,' is not supported by the 
facts. (See Li/e, p. 85 f. n. ; and The Friend (1818), § l, ' On the 
Principles of Political Knowledge,' where Coleridge reprints one of 
the Addresses of 1795, as documentary evidence of the fact that 
he was never at any time of his life 'a convert to the system.') 

Page 120 \. \. a most censurable appiication 0/ a text frotn 
Isaiah. ' VVherefore my Bowels shall sound like an Harp,' Isaiah. 
Cp. Letters, 157 (March, 1796): ' The Essay on Fasting I am 
ashamed of, but it is one of my misfortunes that I am obliged 
to publish extempore as well as compose.' 

4. disgusted by their infidelity, &c. Cp. letter to G. Coleridge, 

254 Biographia Literaria 

April, 1798 {Letters, p. 240): ' Equally witli you I deprecate the 
moral and intellectual habits of those men, both in England and 
France, who have modestly assumed to themselves the exclusive 
titie of Philosophers and Friends of Freedom. I think them 
at least as distant from goodness as from greatness.' 

9. / levelled iny attacks, &c. The article Modern Patriotisiii 
{Watchman, No. III) does not correspond to Coleridge's descrip- 
tion. It is in effect an exhortation to the 'good citizen ' to lead 
a moral Hfe, give up Godwinism, and ' condescend to beheve in 
a God, and in the existence of a Future State '. Neither in this 
nor other numbers do I find any reference to the 'gagging bills', 
or any plea for national education and the spread of gospels. 
Coleridge may, however, be thinking of the address delivered by 
him in the same year (printed in The Friend, 1818). 

26. At the nitith 7iumber I dropt the luork. Not at the ninth 
number, but the tenth. On the last page the reader was informed 
that ' This is the last number of the Watchman . . . The reason is 
short and satisfactory — the work does not pay its expenses '. 

31. thrown into jail by my Bristol printer. According to 
Cottle {Rein., p. 83) ' Mr. C.'s memor>' was here grievously 
defective. The fact is Biggs the printer (a worthy man) never 
threatened or even importuned for the money . . . The whole of the 
paper (which cost more than the printing) was paid for by the 
writer ' (i. e. Cottle himself ). 

34. a dear frietid, tvho attached himself to me. Sara Coleridge 
{Biog. Lit. 1847, i. 188) is apparently mistaken in thinking that 
Josiah Wade is here referred to. The dear friend is more probably 
Thomas Poole, at whose instigation a number of friends of 
Coleridge subscribed a purse of from ^35 to ^40, which reached 
him on the last ' magazine-day ' of The IVatchman {Life, p. 52; 
Thomas Poole and his Frie?ids, by Mrs. Sandford, i. 142-5). 
Coleridge made Poole's acquaintance on his first visit to Bristol, 
1794. Although after 1799 they saw and heard comparatively little 
of each other, they remained firm friends to the last. 

Page 121 1. 5. Conscientiously an opponent of the first revo- 
lutionary ivar. Coleridge's chronology in this sentence is some- 
what vague. The declaration of war with France took place in 
1793: the invasion of Switzerland in 1798: and Coleridge's retire- 
ment to Stowey in 1796 (Dec. 30). See letter to Miss Cruickshanks 
(? 1803 : Cottle, Rem, p. iio) : 'At that time (1793) I seriously held 
the doctrine of passive obedience, though a violent enemy of the 
first war.' 

16. by luritingversesfora London Mornitig Paper. Coleridge 
apparently did not (see Life, p. 85) begin writing for the Morning 
Post before Jan. 1798. Between that date and his departure for 
Germany the following poems were printed in this paper: Fire, 
Famine, and Slaughtcr ; The Ravcn ; Lezoti ; The Recantation 

Notes, Chapter X 255 

(i.e. France : An Ode)\ and The Mad Ox. His chief earnings 
in 1797 seem to have come from the new edition of his poems, and 
occasional reviews, with other 'shilHng-scavengering employments' 
(Life, p. 63). 

33. Hartlefs Essay on Man, The ' Observations on Man, 
his Frame, his Duty, and his Expectations, in two parts, 1748', to 
which frequent allusions have already been made. 

Page 122 1. I. /ny sole inotive in choosing Stoxvey for niy 
residence. The cottage at Clevedon, where Coleridge settled after 
marriage, was soon abandoned on account of its distance from the 
Bristol Library, and during the whole of 1796 he was vvithout 
a settled home. No doubt the proximity to Poole was his inain 
inducement in settHng again in the country. In Nov, 1796, 
Coleridge wrote: ' To live in a beautiful country, and to inure 
myself as much as possible to the labour of the field, have been 
for this year past my dream of the day, my sigh at midnight. But 
to enjoy all these blessings near you, to see you daily . . . the 
vision-weaving fancy has indeed often pictured such things, but 
hope never dared whisper a promise.' Poole mentioned the 
cottage at Stowey, but at the same time tried to dissuade Coleridge 
from settling in it — thereby throwing his friend into a frenzy of doubt 
and misapprehension, which was, however, speedily resolved. (See 
Letters, pp. 173, 183, 187, 208, especially the very characteristic 
one, p. 187.) 

2. L was soforttinate as to acquire. Coleridge first visited the 
Wordsworths at Racedown in Worcestershire on the fifth and sixth 
of June, 1797 (this was not, however, actually the first meeting 
between the poets). At the beginning of July they accompanied 
him to Stowey, and in the middle of the month took up their abode 
for a year at Alfoxden, about three miles from the Stowey cottage. 
Both Stowey and Alfoxden He at the foot of the eastern slopes of 
the Quantocks. 

6. His conversation extended, to alinost all siibfects. To Estlin 
(May (?) 1798 : Letters, p. 246) Coleridge wrote : ' On one subject 
we (Wordsworth and Coleridge) are habitually silent : we found 
our data dissimilar, anji never renewed the subject. It is his 
practice and almost his nature to convey all the truth he knows 
without any attack on what he supposes to be false, if that falsehood 
be interwoven with virtue or happiness. He loves and venerates 
Christ and Christianity. I wish he did more ; but it were wrong 
if an incoincidence with one of our wishes altered our respect and 
afifection to a man of whom we are, as it were, instructed by one 
great Master to say that not being against us he is for us.' Poetry, 
Spinoza, and Necessitarianism were among the most frequent topics 
of conversation. In 1804 Coleridge wrote that ' Wordsworth was 
(i. e. in those days) even to extravagance a Necessitarian '. To 
Estlin, Coleridge adds : 'His (Wordsworth's) genius is most 

256 Biographia Litemria 

apparent in poetry, and rarely, except to me in tete-a-tcte, breaks 
out in conversational eloquence.' 

II. extended to my excellent fnend. In a letter of Oct. 1797 
{Letters, p. 233), dissuading Thelwall from his project of settling in 
Stowey, Coleridge writes : * Very great odium T. Poole incurred 
by bringing me here. My peaceable manners and known attach- 
ment to Christianity had almost worn it away, when Wordsworth 
came, and he, Hkewise by T. Poole's agency, settled here. You 
cannot conceive the tumults, calumnies, and apparatus of threatened 
persecutions which this event has occasioned round about us.' 
According to Mr. Dykes Campbell {Life, "j-i)), 'it was undoubtedly 
Thelwairs visit (in the summer of 1797) which brought about the 
cessation of Wordsworth's tenancy of Alfoxden.' (See T. Poole 
and his frie/ids, i. 140; Cottle's Retn. p. 181 ; and Fenwick note to 
Anecdote for Fathers.) 

20. the following deep remark. The same story is told in 
Cottle's Remitiiscences (p. 181). 

32. the commencement of the Addington administration. 
Addington succeeded Pitt as Prime Minister in 1801. The Peace 
of Amiens was concluded in October of that year. 

Page 123 1. 26. expatriating their hopes and fears. See The 
IVatchman, No. 8, April, 1796, Remonstrance fo the French Lcgis- 
lators: ' Every heart proudly expatriated itself, and we heard 
with transports of the victories of Frenchmen as the victories of 
Human Nature.' Cp. Wordsworth, Preliide, x. 283, &c. : 

I rejoiced, 
Yea, aftervvards — truth most painful to record I — 
Exulted, in the triumph of my soul, 
When Englishmen by thousands were o'erthrown, 
Left without glory on the field, or driven, 
Brave hearts ! to shameful flight ; 
and Coleridge's France : An Ode. 

32. If in Spain too disappointment. The restoration of Ferdi- 
nand VII to the throne of Spain in 18 14, in place of Joseph 
Buonaparte, proved disastrous to the cause of reform. Ferdinand 
reinstituted the old absolutism with all its abuses, and the Liberals 
were ruthlessly persecuted. This state of things lasted till 1820. 

PaGE 124 1. 23. the speeches and ivritings of Edmiind BurKc. 
In earlier days, the democrat Coleridge thought less highly of 
Burke's insight, though he honoured his character. See the Sonnet 
to Burke {Morn. Chron., Dec. 9, 1794; Poet. IVorks, p. 38), the 
review of Burke's Letters to a Noble Lord (reprinted from The 
IVatchman in Essays on his oivn Times, i. 107-19), and Letters, 
p. 157. And his estimate of Burke in 1809, which he reprinted in 
1818 {Friend, sect. i, essay 4), is hardly so favourable as the present 
one. See also Letters, p. 640 (April, 1815), where Burke is said to 

Notes, Chapter X 257 

have adopted ' the principle of becoming all things to all men, if 
by any means he might save any, with results disastrous to his 
integrity'. But in 1833 (April 8, T. T.) Coleridge is fain to 
' heartily acknowledge his transcendent greatness '. 

Page 125 1. 25. he went on refifiing: from Goldsmith's Retalia- 
tion. More fuUy quoted in The Frietid, ib. 

Page 126 1. II. my letters to Judge Fletcher. These letters 
on the subject of Cathohc Emancipation appeared Sept.-Dec. 
1814 ; and were reprinted in Essays on our oivn Tiines, iii. 677-733. 
See letter to D. Stuart, Oct. 18 14 {Letiers, p. 636) : ' What I wanted 
to say is very important, because it strikes at the root of all legis- 
lative Jacobinism;' and to Lady Beaumont, Ap. 1815 {Letters, 
p. 642) : ' I assure you, it (i. e. the account given in the letters) is 
no exaggerated picture of Jacobinism,' &c. 

19. rt spy was actually sent doivn. According to Mr. Dykes 
Campbell (who quotes Southey's Life and Corr. \\. 243) it seems 
certain that a spy was sent down, although Wordsworth declared 
in later life that he never heard of the circumstance till the publica- 
tion of the Biog. Lit. (See Life, p. 73.) 

Page 129 1. 24. the poem, which was to have been entitled The 
Brook. This poem was planned in conversation with Wordsworth. 
See Life, p. 79, and Fenwick note to the Duddon Sonnets, where 
Wordsworth states that in writing this series he failed to perceive 
that he ' was trespassing upon ground pre-occupied, at least as far 
as intention went, by Mr. Coleridge ; who, more than twenty years 
ago, used to speak of writing a rural poem, to be entitled " The 
Brook"'. ' But a particular subject' (Wordsworth adds) ' cannot, 
I think, much interfere with a general one ; and I have been further 
kept from encroaching on any right Mr. Coleridge may still wish to 
exercise, by the restraint which the frame of the sonnet imposed 
upon me . . . ' Wordsworth's hope, expressed in this same note, 
' that The Brook will ere long murmur in concert with TJie Duddon ' 
was not to be fulfilled. 

PaGE 130 1. 26. The horror of the peasants' ivar. The follow- 
ing passage, down to p. 132, 1. l, occurs in No. 7 of The Friend 
(1809-10). The revolt 6f the peasants broke out in S. Germany in 
1525. The Anabaptists (the extreme party of the Reformation) took 
advantage of the rising of the peasants against feudal oppression to 
inaugurate a war upon all constituted authorities, and Miinzer, the 
Anabaptist leader, put himself at the head of the revolt. The 
peasant insurgents were crushed in the battle of Frankhausen 
(1525), but the campaign of the Anabaptists, which was associated 
with unbridled licence and excesses, continued for ten years more. 

Page 131 1. 3. Presbyter ivas but Old Priest ivrit large. 
MiIton's Sonnet on the New Forcers of Conscience ttnder the Long 

258 Biographia Literaria 

7. a seal set upon hitn, &c. Revelation xx. 3. 

16. the miserable Covenanters. After the restoration of Epis- 
copacy in Scotland by the first Act of the ParHament of 1662, the 
Covenants were declared illegal oaths, and the Covenanters sub- 
jected to severe persecution, which lasted until the accession of 
William III. 

PAGE132 1. 10. TheFriend,p. iio. See The Friend{\%\%), § i, 
'On the Principles of Political Knowledge,' Essay III (first pub- 
lished 1809). 

18. With more than 'potXxc /eeling, i. e. because too personal. 
Cp. Biog. Lit. ii. 14, 'Where the subject is taken immediately from 
the author's personal sensations and experiences, the excellence of 
a particular poem is but an equivocal mark . . . of genuine poetic 

19. The sensual and the dark, &c. From France : An Ode 
(The Recantation), published in the Morjiing Post in the spring 
of 1798. In the original ' subtle ' stood for ' cherub '. 

Page 133 I. 8, the Cartesian opinion, &c. See Erdmann, Hist. 
ofPhil., Eng. Trans., ii. i^foll. 

22. In the position, that all reality, &c. From Kant's treatise 
Der einzig mogliche Beweisgrund zu einer Demonstration fiir das 
Dasein Gottes. (See Werke, ed.Hartenstein, ii. 133 ; T. T, Feb. 22, 

Page135 11. 13-15. I becojne convinced, that religion ...tnust have 
a moral origin. Cp. Biog. Lit. i. 84, 1. 11, and note ad loc. ; The 
Friend {\8\8}, § 2, ch. xi ; and Church and State (1839 ed.), p. 188. 
36. It could not be intellectually more evident. For the dis- 
tinction of intellectual conviction and religious faith, cp. Aids to 
Reflection, ' On that which is indeed Spiritual Religion,' Aphor. ii, 
Comment. (Bohn, pp. 106 foll.) ; Biog. Lit. p. 84, I. 11 and note; 
Lit. Pem. i, pp. 390-1, &c. ; and for the place of the speculative 
reason in Theology, see Aids to Reflectioji, pp. 122 and 228-9 (Bohn's 
edition). Cp. also the Editor's note on Kant in Schwegler's History 
of Philosophy (Eng. Trans.). The present passage shows that 
Coleridge did sympathize with Kant's views on the significance of 
the moral postulates, in spite of what he says on p. 100. 

Page 136 I. 19. Possibiiitatem, &c. Letter to John Frederick, 
Duke of Hanover, written probably in 1671. Leibnitz' Deutsche 
Schriften, herausg. von Dr. G. E. Guhrauer, Berlin 1838, i. 282. 

Page 137 1. 13. myfinal re-conversion. See note to p. 114, 1. 31. 
16. the rescue of St. Augustine^s faith. See The Confessions, 
chs. vii and viii. 

20. the generous and mtmificent patronage, &c. For the 
facts concerning the Wedgwoods' gift to Coleridge, see Life, 
pp. 82-4 and 192-3 ; T. Poole and his Friends, i. 259-61, ii. 244 ; 
Miss Meteyard, A Group of Englishmen, p. 378. In 1812, Josiah 
Wedgwood withdrew his half of the pension of ^150, although the 

Notes, Chapter X 259 

whole had been granted unconditionally. The withdrawal came in 
some sense as a relief to Coleridge, who felt doubtless that he had 
done Httle to fulfil the purpose of the benefaction. (Letter to 
Stuart, Letters froni Lake Poets, p. 218.) For many years the 
whole of the annuity had been passed on to Mrs. Coleridge. 
Coleridge sailed from England on the loth of September, 1798. 

F. N. Luther^s Gert/ian letter on interpretation. Sendbrief voni 
Dolmetscher der Heiligen Schrift, Luther's Werke, ed. Walch, 
xxi. 318. (See Biog. Lit. 1847, i. 212 f. n.) 

Page 138 1. I. which . . . L have described in The Friend, 
i. e. in Satyrane's Letters, pubHshed in Nos. 14, 16, and 18 of 
The Friend; afterwards reprinted in the Biog. Lit.{\%\']). Two 
extracts from letters to his vvife appeared in No. 19. For other 
letters relating to this visit, see Letters, ch. iv, the introduction to 
which contains a fuH Hst of the pubHshed correspondence and other 
memorials of this period. 

6. Blu}nenbach,\j^2-\2,40. A distinguished physiologist, per- 
haps best known for his Hatidbook of Cotnparative Anatomy, which 
anticipated the works of Cuvier and later writers. This, as weH as 
his Lnstitutiones Physiologicae (the textbook of the lectures, which 
Coleridge attended), has been translated into EngHsh. (See The 
Friend, 1818, First Landing-Place, Essay V, where Coleridge 
defends Blumenbach against the suspicion of materialism.) 

8. Eichhorn. ' Coleridge, an able vindicator of those truths 
(Christian Evidences), is well acquainted with Eichhorn, but the 
latter is a coward, who dreads his arguments and his presence.' 
(Carlyon, Early Years and Late Reflections, i. 100 n. ; quoted, 
Life, p. 97.) See also Letters, p. 298. J. G. Eichhorn (1752-1827), 
an eminent scholar, historian, and biblical critic ; the founder of 
the rationalizing school of biblical criticism. 

15. the Gothic ofUlphilas. Ulfilas or Ulfila (311-80 (?) A.D.), 
the apostle of Christianity to the Goths. Of his translation of the 
Scriptures, the greater part of the Gospels, large portions of 
the Epistles, and some fragments of the Old Testament have 
been preserved. 

Page 139 I. 4. Ottfried's metrical paraphrase. Otfrid (ninth 
century a.d.), a native of the Middle Rhine, and nionk at Weissen- 
burg in Elsass. The purpose of his Evangelietibuch (written about 
870) was not to provide a translation of the Gospels, but rather to 
base upon them an account of Christ's life and teaching. 

5. the Theotiscan, &c. 'Theotisc' was the name given to 
the Teutonic language by the Franco-Teutonic Romance writers. 
The period to which Coleridge aUudes is now known as the Old 
High German Period, the earliest monuments of which belong to 
the eighth century a.d. The next or Middle High German period 
extends from about iioo to 1500, and includes the Minnesinger 
and metrical romances, but not the Meistersinger. See Letters, 

S 2 

26o Biographia Literaria 

p. 298 : ' The learned orientalist Tychsen has given me instruction 
in the Gothic and Theotuscan languages, which I can novv read 
pretty vvell.' There vvere tvvo Orientalists of the name of Tychsen ; 
Coleridge is referring to Thomas Christian Tyschen (1758-1834), 
Professor at Gottingen. 

Page 140 1. 9. Hans Sachs (1497-1576), the greatest of the 
Meistersingers and the representative Germanpoet of the sixteenth 
century. His poetry, after lying neglected for nearly two hundred 
years, vvas again brought into notice towards the end of the 
eighteenth century, chiefly through the instrumentahty of Goethe. 

21. His poem entitled ihe MORNING Star. Hans Sachs vvas 
an ardent supporter of Luther, vvhose praises he celebrates in the 
poem beginning, ' Die Wittenbergisch Nachtigall, die man jetzt 
horet iiberall '. The Morning Star, however, vvas composed, not 
by Hans Sachs, but by Philipp Nicolai. 

23. aji excellent /lyinfi, viz. the hymn ' Warum betriibst du 
dich, mein Herz ? ', vvhich soon after its publication was translated 
into eight languages. 

30. that luhich is called the HiGH-German. The German 
language, as Luther found it, was divided into High (including 
Upper and Middle) and Low German. For his translation of the 
Scriptures, Luther chose P>anconian, the Middle German dialect 
then in use in the Imperial Chancery, and thus made himself 
intelligible to both Low and High Germans. His translation of 
the New Testament appeared first on Sept. 21, 1522, 

PaGE 141 1. 8. Alniost every third luord, &c. The mode of 
printing described by Coleridge was very prevalent in works of the 
seventeenth century. Thus, in the first edition of the dramas of 
Andreas Gryphius, vve have such forms as : ' Semperfjetm, Compli- 
mentinnig, Stoicidalifc^er Mord.' It was even more frequent in 
vvords borrowed from the French. (For this note I am indebted to 
Herr Dr. Fritzsche, of Giessen.) 

12. Opits arose. Martin Opitz (1597-1639), vvas the guiding 
spirit of the movement set afoot at the beginning of the seventeenth 
century, to purify the language of unlawful elements, and establish 
stricter canons of literary style. His critical work, Die deutsche 
Poeterei, had enormous influence in determining the taste of his 
and many subsequent generations. While he undoubtedly rendered 
great services to the language, Opitz retarded the growth of German 
literature by imposing a mechanical conception of poetry upon the 

23. the splendid era, &c. The second classical period of Ger- 
man literature, dating from the second half of the eighteenth century, 
and culminating in Schiller and Goethe. 

With Klopstock Coleridge came into personal contact, paying 
him, in company vvith Wordsworth, a visit at his house in the neigh- 
bourhood of Hamburg. He recorded his ovvn and Wordsworth's 

Notes, Chapter X 261 

impressions in Satyrane's Letters (Lett. II). Of the poet's great 
work, Tlie Messiah, Coleridge's opinion is summed up in his ex- 
clamation on hearing Klopstock designated as a German Milton — 
' A very German Milton indeed ! ' See Southey, Life and Corr. 
iii. 258. For Lessing, on the other hand, he entertained the highest 
respect. In 1805 {A. P., p. 151) Coleridge wrote : ' Leibnitz, Lessing, 
Voss, Kant shall be Gerinany to me, let whatever coxcombs rise up 
and shrill it away in the grasshopper vale of reviews.' And this 
predilection for the elder writers of the classical period remained 
with him to the end. His early enthusiasm for Schiller soon yielded 
to a more tempered judgement (see his letter in Moiithly Review, 
Nov. 18, 1800; Poet. IVorks, p. 647), and Goethe's greatness he 
either could not or would not understand. (Cp. Crabb Robinson, 
Reminiscences, MS., 1824: 'Coleridge granting the great poet 
(Goethe) only the merit of exquisite Taste— and denying him Prin- 
ciple;' and T. T, Feb. 6, 1833, &c.) Like Lamb and Wordsworth, 
Coleridge objected to Goethe on moral grounds. 

31. Soon after )ny retiirn from Germany. Coleridge had 
made promise of contributions to the Morning Post before leaving 
for Germany ; but he did not fulfil his engagement until January, 
1800, some six months after his return to England. During 
January he was an assiduous contributor ; but he soon found 
the work of a reporter too fatiguing, and in a few months 
abandoned it, not resuming his connexion with the journal until 
November, 1801 {Letters, p. 324; Life, pp. 93 and 106 foll.). 
These contributions, together with his other journalistic writings, 
were collected by Sara Coleridge, and published under the title 
' Essays on His Own Times : being a second Series of The Friend' 
(3 vols., 1850). 

PaGE 142 1.2. that fournal became . . . anti-ministerial zW^^^/, 
&c. In 1800 Pitt was still Prime Minister. For CoIeridge's report 
of his speech of Feb. 17,1 800, ' On the continuance of the War with 
France,' see the Essays on His Owti Times, ii. 293, iii. 1009-1019; 
and letter to Southey, Feb. 18, 1800, ' I reported the whole with 
notes so scanty, that— Mr. Pitt is much obliged to me. For, by 
Heaven, he never talked so eloquently in his life. He is a stupid, 
/«j-Z^^rt' charlatan that Pitf {Letters, p. 327, and f. n.). 

According to De Ouincey (see his article in TaiVs Mag., Jan. 
1835 ; quoted Biog. Lii. 1847, Appendix, i. 340), ' Coleridge passed 
over to the Tories only in that sense in which all patriots did so at 
that time, and in relation to our great foreign interest — viz. by 
refusing to accompany the Whigs in their almost perfidious de- 
meanour towards Napoleon Buonaparte. . . . It was thus far— viz. 
exclusively, or almost exclusively, in relation to our great feud with 
Napoleon— that Coleridge adhered to the Tories.' See T. T., 
April 28, 1833, where Coleridge denounces ' the conduct of the 

262 Biographia Literaria 

Whigs from the early years of the Revolution, and Fox's gradual 
departure '' from all the principles of Enghsh policy and wisdom " '. 

9. Mr. Perceval. Spencer Perceval (1762-1812) succeeded the 
Duke of Porlland as Prime Minister, 1809; assassinated, 1812. 

F.N. For this quotation see The Friend{\%\Z)., ' On the Prin- 
ciples of Pohtical Knowledge,' § i, Essay 5. (First printed in The 
Fnetid, 1809, No. 10.) 

Page 145 1. 2. afier that paper was transferred. Stuart sold 
the Morning Post in 1802, and took over the Courier in 1803. 
Coleridge's last recorded contribution to the Morning Post is dated 
Nov. 5, 1802. For his connexion with the Courier see note to 
Biog. Lit. i. 38, I. 10. 

5. Things of this nature, &c. From the Prologue to 77/«? 
Royal Slave, by William Cartwright (1611-43). 

9. Yet ifi these labours I eniployed. The controversy to 
which Coleridge's statements in the Biog. Lit. and T. T. (first 
edition), respecting his connexion with the Morning Post and the 
Coiirier, gave rise, is too complicated to be dealt with in these 
notes. The reader should consult the Life, pp. 107-9 ; the Getttle- 
man^s Magazine for May and June, 1838, where Stuart gives his 
own version of the matter : Biog. Lit. 1847, Introduction p. iv, and 
Biogr. Suppl. ch. v. 

15. / ivas tiever hotioured, &c. In a long and interesting letter 
to Daniel Stuart of September, 18 14 {Letters, p. 627), dealing 
with his fortunes as a journalist, Coleridge draws a pathetic pic- 
ture of himself, ' Unthanked and left worse than useless, by the 
friends of the Government, and the Establishment, to be under- 
mined or outraged by all the malice, hatred, and calumny of its 
enemies : and to think and toil with a patent to all the abuse, and 
a transfer to others of all the honours.' 

19. Mr. Fox^s assertion. According to Sara Coleridge {Biog. 
Lit. 1847, i. 340) 'it is certain that some orator of the Opposition 
(Charles Fox, as Coleridge asserts) had pointed out all the 
principal writers in the Mortiitig Post to Napoleon's vengeance, 
by describing the war as a war " of that journars creation " '. I do 
not know that this Parliamentary allusion is anyvvhere on actual 

23. a specified ohject of Buotiaparte^s resetitmetit. Coleridge's 
various reported accounts of the circumstances attending his 
departure from Rome and Italy in 1806 (Gillman, Life, pp. 179- 
81: Qq\X\^, Rem., pp. 310-13: Caroline Yo\'5 fourna/s, p. 64) are 
not wholly consistent, but they agree in this, that he was warned to 
leave Italy as soon as possible, as Napoleon had ordered his arrest 
on account of the articles written in the Mortiing Post {Life, p. 151). 
A similar statement is contained in a footnote to a title-page of 
a proposed reprint of newspaper articles, quoted in Letters, p. 498 
f. n. On this Mr. E. H. Coleridge (ib.) thus comments : ' It is 

Notes, Chapter X 263 

a well-known fact that Napoleon read the articles in the Morning 
Post, and deeply resented their tone and spirit, but whether Cole- 
ridge was rightly informed that an order for his arrest had come 
from Paris, or whether he was warned that if, with other Enghsh- 
men, he should be arrested, his connexion with the Morning Post 
would come to hght, must remain doubtfuL' Napoleon's fear of 
the Enghsh Press is illustrated by his courteous behaviour to an 
otherwise insignificant English journahst (see Biog. ZzV. 1847, i. 341). 

29. by Cardinal Fesch himself. Cardinal Fesch (i 763-1 839), 
Archbishop of Lyons, was sent as ambassador to Rome in con- 
nexion with Napoleon's project to be crowned by the Pope at Paris. 
Cottle {Rem., p. 310) tells us that 'Cardinal Fesch, in particular, 
was civil, and sought his (CoIeridge's) company'. The hint of 
danger, however, was according to Cottle (ib.) given by no less 
a person than Jerome Buonaparte himself. But this, like many of 
Cottle's statements, must be accepted with reserve. 

33. that good old man, the present Pope. See the statement 
quoted in the Letters, p. 498 f. n. : ' By the Pope's goodness I was 
off by one.' 

Page 146 1. I. Dtic d' Enghicti, a Bourbon, son of the Prince of 
Conde. Solely in order to strike a blow at the Bourbons, Napoleon 
caused him to be arrested, summarily tried, and shot (March 21, 

7. my essays co?itribiited to introduce, &c. Cp. letter to Daniel 
Stuart {Letters, p. 828) : 'I dare assert, that the science of rea- 
soning and judging concerning the productions of literature, the 
characters and measures of public men, and the events of nations, 
by the subsumption of them under Prinxiples deduced from the 
nature of ]\Iax . . . was unknown before the year 1795-6 ' (i. e. the 
year of Coleridge's entry into public life, the year of the Conciofies 
and The IVatchman). 

15. the merit of having first explicitly defined. In the 
Morning Post, Oct. 1802: Essays on His oivn Times, ii. 542. 
See note to Essay V, ' On the Principles of Political Knowledge ' 
{The Friend, 1818 : York, Library ed., p. 148), where Coleridge 
claims for his Morning Post article ' the first philosophical appro- 
priation of a precise import to the word Jacobin, as distinct irom 
Republican, Democrat and Demagogue'. 

Page 147 1. 10. the series of essays entitled, &c. Published in 
the Morning Post, Sept. 21, 25, Oct. 2, 1802 ; Essays on His Own 
Times, ii. 505. 

12. in those which follozued. Morning Post, Oct. 12, 1802; 
Essays, &c., ii. 532. 

17. at the cominencement of the Spanish revolutton. The 
eight ' Letters on the Spaniards ' appeared in the Courier of 
December-January, 1809-10, and were reprinted in Essays on 
His Own Times, ii. 593-661. See Letters, p. 629 and note, and 

264 Biographia Literaria 

T. T., April 28, 1823, where the story is told of Lord Darnley's 
incredulity respecting the predictions niade in these letters, and of 
his astonishment at their subsequent fulfilment. 

27. if my owii feelitigs had not precluded. Coleridge had at 
no time any intention of remaining at Malta. In the first instance 
he vvent out merely in the hope of freeing himself from ill-health 
and 'inward distractions'. His occupations in Malta he describes 
as * a business he detested ' ; and before a year was out, he was 
chafing at the delays which kept him in Malta, though it was no 
happy home-coming to which he could look forward. 

Page 148 1. 34. the compositions . . . I have made public. Cole- 
ridge is thinking of his writings in periodicals and journals — 7'>^^ 
Waichman, The Friend, the Courier and Morning Post, and the 
Lecture-Pamphlels of 1795. 

PaGE 151 1. 9. Keen pattgs of love, &c. From the poem To 
a Gentleman (William Wordsworth), 11. 65-75, composed at 
Coleorton in January, 1807. The poem was sent in MS. to the 
Beaumonts, and afterwards printed in Sibyllifie Leaves, but with 
many alterations. See Poet. Works, pp. 177 and 634 : Memorials of 
Coleorton, i. 216. The lines here printed stand as in the original. 

23. Affectus animi varios, &c. From Petrarch's Epist., Lib. i. 
Barbato Salmonensi ; Op. Basil. 1554, p. 1330 (ref. Biog. Lit. 
1847). In the original four verses occur between 'Vox aliudque 
sonat ' (which should be ' voxque aliud mutata sonat') and 'Jam- 
que observatio vitae '. A portion of the same poem was prefixed 
as a motto to Lo7<e Poems in the Sibylline Leaves. See A. P., 
p. 262 and Editor's Note. 


Page 152 1. I. the late Mr. Whitbread's. Samuel Whitbread 
(1758-1815), politician and philanthropist. He took an active part 
in the rebuilding and reorganizing of Drury Lane Theatre (re- 
opened Oct. 10, 18 12). See Biog. Lit. ii. 181. 

9. Whitehead. The poet William Whitehead, 1714-85. He 
vvas made laureate on the death of Cibber in 1757, and in this 
capacity vvrote his humorous * Charge to the Poets ' (1762). 

17. With the exception of one extraordinary 7nan. ? Robert 
Southey. See Biog. Lit. \. 47-8. 

Page 153. 1. 5. one contradistinction of genius from talent. 
For another point of distinction see Biog. Lit. i. 59, and cp. T, T., 
May 21, 1830, and Lectures, p. 13 (' Talent vvas a manufacture : 
genius a gift which no labour or study could supply, &c.'), and p. 64. 
For the analogy of virtue and genius, cp. Co]eridge's statement 
(yi. /*,, 165), * vvhen a mere stripling, I had formed the opinion that 
true taste was virtue, and that bad writing vvas bad feeling ; ' and 

Notes, Chapter XI 265 

Leciures, p. 225 (* The close and reciprocal connection of taste and 
morality '). See, too, Prospectus to Friend {iZo^), ' the necessary 
dependence of taste on moral impulses and habits,' and Letters, 
p. 672. 

22. Dear tranquil time, &c. From the poem To a Getttlematt 
(William Wordsworth), 11. 91-2. 

Page 154 \. itf. Baxter. Richard Baxter (161 5-91), the famous 
divine, besides being a voluminous writer, spent a life of the 
greatest activity as preacher, pastor, and reformer of the Church. 

16. Darzvin. Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802), poet and scientist: 
he also practised extensively as a physician at Lichfield. 

Roscoe. William Roscoe (i 753-1 831), the historian, com- 
bined with his literary work the profession of an attorney, and 
afterwards of a banker. 

27. Amofig the numerous blcssings. The remainder of this 
paragraph, and the next as far as the words ' to withhold five', is, 
as Sara Coleridge {Biog. Lit. 1S47, i. 233) points out, repeated in 
almost the same words in The Constitution of Church and State, 
1830, the last of Coleridge's works published in his lifetime (see 
pp. 77-80 of the second ed., 1839). 

Page 155 \. I. the lofty grave tragedians taught, &c. Par. 
Reg. iv. 261. 

25. It cannot be valued, &c, Job xxviii. 16-lS. 

Page 156 1. 17. Trullibers. The name is taken from Parson 
Trulliber, the unprincipled clergyman of Fielding's Joseph 

Page 157 1. 9. Et Pater Aetieas. Aetieid, iii. 343. 

Page 158 1. 7. the Misogyne, Boccaccio. Opere Vulgari di G. 
Boccaccio, Firenze 1833, xv, 17-27 (see Biog. Lit. 1847, App. 
Note M,, vol. i. p. 345). 

16. spirits, ' not of health ', &c. 
Be thou a spirit of health, or goblin damned, 
Bring with thee airs from Heaven or blasts from Hell, &c, 

Handet i. 4. 40. 

Page 159 1. 22. an early chapter of this volume. See ch. ii, ' On 
the supposed irritability of men of genius.' 

30, Am sorgfaliigsteti, &c. This passage in Herder I have 
not been able to trace. Herder spoke depreciatingly of the 
writer's profession to Schiller, when they first met in ] 788 (Tomas- 
chek, Schiller u. die Wissenschaft, p. 45). 


Page 160 1. II. utitil you understatid, &c. Cp. note in A. P. of 
date April, 1801, where Coleridge writes in reference to G. Bruno's 
De Monade, &c. : ' Nor do I presume even to suppose that the 

266 Biographia Litemria 

meaning is of no value (till I understand a man's ignorance, I pre- 
sume myself ignorant of his understanding), but it is for others at 
present, not for me ; ' and Memorials of Coleorion, ii. 105 (Letter of 
Jan. 1810) : ' It is a maxim with me, always to suppose myself 
ignorant 0/ a writer^s understafiding, until I understand his 

15. Hierocles^ a Neoplatonist of the seventh century and com- 
mentator of Pythagoras. 

17. a treatise of a religious fanatic. FJacob Boehme : see 
letter just quoted (1. 11), which deals with the Teutonic mystic, 
to whose ' ignorance ' Coleridge coftjectures that he has found 
a key. 

Page 162 1. 33. if a man receives as fundamental facts, Cp. 
A. P. p. 185 (? 1806) : * Time, space, duration, action, active passion 
passive, activeness, passiveness, reaction, causation, affinity— here 
assemble all the mysteries unknown. All is known-unknown, say 
rather, nierely known. All is unintelhgible, and yet Locke and the 
stupid adorers of i\i2Xfetish earth-clod take all for granted.' 

PaGE 164 1. 21. The first range of hills, &c. On this elaborate 
metaphor Coleridge thus comments at a later date (April, 1825, 
quoted Biog. Lit. 1847, i. 247) : ' If I did not see it with my own 
eyes, I should not believe that I had been guilty of so many hydro- 
static Bulls as are contained in this unhappy allegory or string of 
metaphors ! How a river was to travel up hill from a vale far 
inward, over the intervening mountains, Morpheus, the Dream 
weaver, can alone unriddle. I am ashamed and humbled, S. T. C 
Has not Coleridge misinterpreted his own figure ? 

F. N. lltis distinction betiueen transcefidental and transcendetit. 
Johnson defines transcendent as ' supremely excellent'; transcen- 
dental as '(l) general : pervading many particulars; (2) supremely 
excellent'. For Kant's distinction of the terms, see Werke, ed. 
Hartenstein, III. 246. 

What these are . . . will be stated . . . in The Friend. This 
project was not fulfilled. 

Page 165 F. N. the correspondence between Wakefeld and Fox. 
' Correspondence of . . . G. W. (Gilbert Wakefield) with the . . . 
Right Hon. C. J. Fox . . . chiefly on subjects of classical literature, 
London, 18 13.' 

Page 166 1. 14. The same passage is quoted by Schelling, 
Werke, \. ii. 78. 

19. Likewise in the ffth book, &c. The same passage 
(Ennead, V. 5. 8) is quoted A. P. p. 48 (Nov. 18 10), as illustrating 
' the System of the Ouakers '. 

Notes, Chapter XII 267 

Page 167 1. 9. They and they only can acquire the philosophic 
imagination. Cp. A.P. p. i86 (? 1806) : ' Form is factitious thinking, 
and thinking is the process ; imagination the laboratory in which 
the thought elaborates essence into existence. A philosopher, that 
is a nominal philosopher without imagination, is a coiner. Vanity, 
the froth of the molten mass, is his stiiff, and verbiage the stamp 
and impression.' 

21. discloses itself in the moral being. Cp. Biog, Lit. \. 
135) 1- I3> &c., and note on the connexion of faith and conscience. 

Page 169 1. 2. exclainis Schelling oti a like occasion. See the 
Abhandliingen zur Erldut. des Id. der IViss. {Werke, I. i. 443), 
from which parts of the preceding paragraph (from ' A system, the 
first principle of which', &c.) (ref. Biog. Lit. 1847) are borrowed. 

4. the same ^vriter observes. See Schelling, ib., for the first 
two sentences of this paragraph (except the parenthesis, which is 

II. Leibnitz hintself, in a ntost instructive passage. Trois 
Lettres ct Mr. Retnond de Afont-Mort, 1741 : CEiivres, ed. Erdmann, 
1840, Pt. II, pp. 701-2 (ref. Biog. Lit. 1847). 

24. the one and all, &c. See Plotinus, Ennead, V. i. 8, where 
Parmenides is quoted ; Ueberweg, Hist. of Phil. (Eng. Trans.) 
i. 54. 

26. the Stotcs held that matter and force are the ultimate 
principles of things : Ueberweg, i. 194. 

F. N. The quotations from Synesius are from the Third hymn 
(II. 180 and 187). For the definition of Spinozism, cp. T. T., 
March 10, 1827. In a letter to George Coleridge of March, 1794, 
Coleridge speaks of having just parted with his edition of Synesius 
by Canterus (Letters, p. 67). 

Page 170 I. I. the vital philosophy. The Cabalists, or philo- 
sophers of the Cabala, a secret body of doctrine which grew up in 
the Middle Ages from the contact of Judaism with Hellenism and 
Mohammedanism : (Ueberweg, ii. 417). The hermetic writings in 
like manner sprang from a fusion of Neo-Platonism and Jewish 
philosophy, in the third and following centuries A. D. 

3. forins and entelechies. By eWeXexf la Aristotle meant the 
actuality of a thing, the realization of its bvvafMs or latent potentiality. 
The distinction was also expressed as that of form (fldos) and 
matter (vXr]). (Uebervveg, i. 162.) 

5. Detnocritus, fifth century B. c, the chief philosopher of the 
Atomistic School. (Ueberweg, i. 68.) 

13. fhii trotive, &c. Cp. A. P. 147 (1805) : ' Mem. always to 
bear in mind that profound sentence of Leibnitz that men's intel- 
lectual errors consist chiefly in dettyiitg. What they affirin with 
feelingxs, for the most part, right— if it be a real affirmation, and 
not affirmation in form, negative in reality. As, for instance, when 
a man praises the French stage, meaning and iniplying his dislike 


Biograph ia L itera ria 

of Shakespeare (and the Elizabethan dramatists).' See Leibnitz, 
CEuvres (ed. Erdmann), ii. 701-2, Trois Lettres d, Mr. Remond de 
Motit-Mort (ref. Biog. Lit. 1847). 

Page 171 1. 8. The ivord fiostulaie, «Scc. The rest of this 
paragraph, and the next two as far as p. 173, 1. 17, are borrowed 
ahnost verbally from the Abhandliing ( Werke, ib. p. 447). This, 
as well as the great majority of the borrowings from Schelhng to 
which I allude, I found already notified in the 1847 edition 
of the Biog. Lit. With regard to all these quotations from 
SchelHng, it should be once for all remembered that Coleridge 
is in all probability not writing with Schelling's works before him, 
but transcribing excerpts from his notebooks, inserted perhaps 
many years before. That it was his habit to compose with his 
notebooks by his side, is evident from the existence of identical 
passages in his notebooks and writings. And if he thus admitted 
the thought of others into the company of his own private medita- 
tions, it was because he felt that they also were already his own. 
See introductory note to the Lecture (Dn Poesy or Art. 

PaGE 173 1. 23. The words of Plotinus. Ennead, iii. 8. 3, p. 634, 

Creuzer's ed. (ref. Biog. Lit. 1847). 

34. E coelo descendit, &c. Juvenal, xi. 27. Upon this maxim 

Coleridge thus wrote in 1832 : — 

Vv(i>6i (TiavTov ! — and is this the prime 

And heaven-sprung maxim of the olden time ! — 

Say, canst thou make thyself? Learn first that trade : — 

Haply thou mayst know what thyself hast made. 

What hast thou, Man, that thou darest call thine own? 

W^hat is there in thee, Man, that may be knovvn ? 

Dark fluxion, all unfixable by thought, 

A phantom dim of past and future wrought, 

Vain sister of the worm,— life, death, soul, clod, 

Ignore thyself and strive to know thy God ! 

{Poet. Works, p. 208.) 

Page 174 1. 4. AII kncwledge rests, &c. This and the following 
sentences as far as the ' mechanism of the bodily motions ', are 
taken with some slight alterations and explanatory interpolations 
from Schelling, Transc. Id. (Werke, I. iii, 338-42). 

Page 176 1.8. a few antong the niost illustrious Newtonians: 
the allusion to the Newtonians is inserted by Coleridge. 

12. The thcory of natural philosophy. The rest of the 
paragraph is Coleridge's own, and the divergence from Schelling is 
significant. Schelling does not introduce the divine name, but 
proceeds : ' The perfected Theoiy of nature would be that, in 
virtue of which all nature should resolve itself into an intelligence. 
The dead and unconscious products of Nature are only abortive 
attempts of Nature to reflect herself : but the so-called dead nature 

Notes, Chapter XII 269 

in general is an unripe intelligence : thence through her phenomena, 
even while yet unconscious, the inteUigent character discovers 
itself '. Of the last sentence Coleridge remarks in a marginal note 
on his copy of the Transc. Id. : ' True or false, this position is too 
early. Nothing precedent has explained, much less proved it true.' 
Cp. also (for the similarity of its spirit with the passage in the text) 
Coleridge's Hymn before Siairise, 1802 {Poet. IVorks, p, 165). 

28. Or the subjective. Cp. Schelhng, ib. p. 341. 

"^l. In the pursuit of these sciences. The substance of the 
following paragraph, with the heading, will be found in the Transc. 
Id. ib. p. 343 ; but the thought is amphfied and illustrated by 
Coleridge. Cp., however, Ideen zu einer Philosophie der Nattir 
{Werke, I. ii. 53). 

Page 177 1. 19. Nec tamen in eo, &c. Descartes, Diss. de 
Methodo, Lect. III, p. 16. Amstel. 1664 (ref. Biog. Lit. 1847). 

29. Now these essential prejudices. With this paragraph cp. 
Transc. Id. ib. p. 343. 

PaGE 178 1. II. The other position. Cp. Transc. Id. ib. 

P- 344. 

29. If it be said. With this paragraph cp. the Abhandlung 
zur Erlduterung, &c. {Werke, I. i. 403), 

Page 179 1. 19. // is to the true and original realism. This 
paragraph is taken from the Abhandlung, ib. pp. 403-4. Sara 
Coleridge compares also Ideen zu eitier Phil. der Natur ( Werke, I. 
ii. 56). 

35. annouficed at the end of this volume. This announcement 
was not made. 

PaGE 180 1. 5. Doctrina per tot manus, &c. This quotation is 
applied by ScheUing to Leibnitz in the Abhandlung, ib. p. 358. 

Thesis I. The first six of the following Theses and 
Schoha do not appear to contain any verbal quotations from 
Schelling : but the substance of them will be found in Transcend. Id. 
Deduktio7i des Princips selbst, pp. 361-76. With Theses VII and 
VIII, Sara Coleridge compares the Abharidltmg, pp. 366 8. But 
the attempts to introdure the conception of a personal God are, as 
before, pecuHar to Coleridge (see Thesis VI, Schohum and f. n., 
concluding sentences of Thesis IX, and Thesis X). 

Page 182 1. 9. the amiable Beattie. James Beattie (1735-1803), 
poet, essayist and moral philosopher, author of The Minsirel. 
His philosophical writings are now practically forgotten. 

F.N. tlie critique on Spinozism. This is the treatise to which 
Coleridge alludes in his letter to Stuart. (See p. 99, 1. 1 and note.) 

PaGE 183 1. 4. object and subject—are identical. Cp. ^. /". 1801 
(p. 15) : ' Let me think of myself, of the thinking being. The idea 

270 Biogi'aphia Literaria 

becomes dim, whatever it be — so dim that I know not what it is ; 
but the feeling is deep and steady, and this 1 call /— identifying 
the percipient and the perceived.' 

18. he tnight reply, &c. Cp. T. T., Nov. l, 1833, ' None but 
one — God — can say " I am I " or " that I am " '. 

F. N. Cp. p. 95, 1. 2, and note. 

Page 186 1. 4. IVe are not investigating, &c. Cp. Transc. 
Id., p. 357. 

16. The iranscendental phtlosof)her,^c. Thesis Xtothe words 
' that exists for us ', is taken bodily from Trarisc. Id., pp. 355-6, 
and the remainder of the second paragraph, to the words ' will or 
intelligence', from p. 29, except for some explanatory sentences 
(ref. Biog. Lit. 1847). 

Page 187 1.30. the position of Malbranche. See Malebranche, 
De la Recherche de la Vcrite, Bk. iii, esp. ch. vi (ref. ib.). 

Page188 1. I. intelligence . . . revealed as an earlier poiver. Cp. 
Schelling's ' Epochs in the history of self-consciousness ', ib. p. 398. 
3. MaKap' l\a6'\. fioi. Synesius, Hymn, iii. II3 (ref. ib.). 

12. t7vo opposite . . . forces. Cp. Schelling's ' antagonistic 
activities', Transc. Id., pp. 432 ff. 

Page 190 1. 6, Katit, de Mtmdi, &c. See Werke, ed. Harten- 
stein, ii. 396. 

8. Critics, &c. With this paragraph and the following cp. the 
Abhandlung, pp. 347-9, where Schelling describes the ' Anti- 
Kantianer ' in somewhat similar terms. 

Page 191 1. 17. non intitiles scientiae. From De Augm. Scient. 
vi. c. 3 (ref. Biog. Lit. 1847). 

Page 192 1. 14. Condillac, 1715-80, the chief representative of 
eighteenth-century materialism in France. 

14. Dr. Reid, 1710-96, founder of the so-called 'common- 
sense philosophy'. His system was developed by Dugald Stewart, 
his chief disciple (1758-1828). 

Page 193 1. 5. Seqiiacitas est potius. Bacon, Nov. Org. Aphor. 
T] and 88 (ref. Biog. Lit. 1847). 

11. in his preface to the new ediiiotJ, i. e. to the edition of 1815. 
See O. W. p. 954, &c. 

13. In an article contributed by me. No. 174 of Omniana. 

PaGE 194 1. 5. Mr. Wordsworth^s . . . objection. See O. W. p.957. 

12. the co-presetice of fancy Tuith imagination. Cp. T.T., 
April 20, 1833: 'Genius must have talent as its complement and 
implement, just as, in like manner, imagination must have fancy. 
In fact, the higher intellectual powers can only act through 
a corresponding energy of the lower.' 

23. the words of Bishop Jeremy Taylor. Jeremy Taylor's 
Via Pacis, Sunday, The First Decad. 8 (ref. Biol. Lit. 1847). 

Notes, Chapter XIII 271 


Page 195 1. 1. C Adam, One Almighty ts, &c. Par. Lost, v. 469 fif. 
21. Sane si res, &c. The first sentence of this quotation 
comes, as is pointed out in Biog. Lit. 1847 (i. 288), from 
Leibnitz' De ipsa Natura, &c., § 8 (Erdmann ed., Pt. i, p. 157) ; 
and the second from his Specimen Dynamicitm, &c. (ed. 1695 i 
not included in Erdmann's edition). In the ox\%md\,imaginationi 
stands ior phatitasiae, formatn for reruin. 

39. Des Cartes, speakitig as a naturalist. This paragraph 
(with the exception of the second sentence) is freely rendered from 
Schelling's Transc. Id. Sect. C. § i). See Descartes' Monde : 
' Give me extension and motion, and I will construct you the world.' 

PaGE 196 1. 14. his essay on the introduction, &c. Versuch, 
den Begriff der negativeti Grossen iti die Weltweisheit einzufiihrett, 
1763. See Werke, ed. Hartenstein, ii, 71, and especially § i, 

PP- 75-7- 

17. as Berkeley did iti his Atialyst. * The Analyst : or a Dis- 
course addressed to an infidel Mathematician. Wherein it is 
examined whether the object, principles, and inferences, of the 
modern Analysis are more distinctly conceived, or more evidently 
deduced, than religious mysteries and points of faith.' 

25. An iniitation of the tnathematical method. Cp. T. T., 
April 14, 1833, for a refutation of this method, of which Spinoza's 
is taken as an illustration. 

Page 197 1. 23. the transcetidetital philosophy dematids. Cp. 
note to p. 188, 1. 12. 

Page 198 1. 7. By ivhat instrutnent. Cp. Schelling's Orgati 
der Tratiscendental-Philosophie j Tratisc. Id., p. 350 ff., and p. 369. 
25. I receivedthe followittg letterfrotn afriend. The'friend' 
was Coleridge himself. In a letter to his London publisher, Curtis, 
in 1816 (printed Lippittcotf s Mag., June 1874), Coleridge speaks of 
' that letter addressed to myself as from a friend, at the close of 
the first volume of the Literary Life, which was written without 
taking my pen off the paper.' 

Page 200 1. I. If substance ttiay be calPd. Milton, Par. Lost, 
ii. 669. 

7. Ati orphic tale indeed. Slightly altered from 11. 45-6 of the 
Poem, To a Getttletitan (W. Wordsworth), which in their original 
(MS.) form ran thus 

An Orphic tale indeed, 
A tale divine of high and passionate thoughts, 
To their own music chaunted ! 
In the printed version ' song ' was substituted for ' tale ' {Poet. 
Works, pp. 176, 525). 

272 Biographia Literaria 

Page 202 1. 8. as a repetition, &.c. Sara Coleridge {Biog. 
Lit. 1847, i. 297) records that she finds this sentence 'stroked 
out in a copy of the B. L. containing a few marginal notes of 
the author, which are printed in this edition'. She adds, 
' I think it best to preserve the sentence while I mention the 
author's judgement upon it, especially as it has been quoted.' 
Probably Coleridge felt that the ideas which the sentence suggested 
were incongruous with the rest of the passage. 

12. differing only in degree, &c. The distinction appears to 
be this. The primary imagination is the organ of common per- 
ception, the faculty by which we have experience of an actual 
world of phenomena. The secondary imagination is the same 
power in a heightened degree, which enables its possessor to see 
the world of our common experience in its real significance. And 
the creations of art are the embodiment of this vision. Cp. the 
opening words of Schelling's Introduction to his Entivurf eines 
Systetns der Natiirphilosophie (1799): ' Intelhgence is productive 
in twofold wise, either blindly and unconsciously, or with freedom 
and consciousness ; unconsciously productive in the perception of 
the universe, consciously in the creation of an ideal world.' 

16. ohjects (as objects) are essc7itially fixed and dead. Thus 
Coleridge wrote in 1802 [Letters, p. 405) that to the Greeks, owing 
to their lack of imagination, ' all objects were dead, mere hollow 
statues'. Cp. Schelling, Abhandlungen, &ic. {IVerke, I. 367) : 'An 
object is something dead and motionless which, itself incapable of 
action, is only the object (Gegenstand) of action,' 

18. Fancy, on the contrary, has no other coimters. Cp. Words- 
worth's Preface to Poems of 1815 {O.IV., p. 957): ' Fancy does 
not require that the materials she makes use of should be 
susceptible to change in their constitution from her touch : and, 
where they admit of modification, it is enough for her purpose if it 
be slight, limited, and evanescent. Directly the reverse of these 
are the desires and demands of the Imagination. She recoils from 
everything but the plastic, the pliant, and the indefinite.' 

28. i/ie critical essay on the uses 0/ the Superfiatiiral. This 
essay, which was projected as early as 1801 (see Letters, p. 349 : 
I shall, therefore, as I said, immediately publish my ' Christabel', 
wdth two essays annexed to it, on the ' Pretematural ' and on 
' Metre 'j was never written, or at least never completed. Another 
project of CoIeridge's was to prefix to Sibylline Leaves an essay 
of forty pages on 'the Imaginative in poetry ' ; this, too, came to 
nothing {Life, p. 233). Coleridge appears to have lectured on the 
rojnantic use of the Supernatural in Lecture XI of the course of 
18 18 (see Prospectus, Lectures, p. 173). 

Oxford: Pnnted at the Clarendon Press by IIorace Hart, M.A. 

*Mi^ijti\^ ^^, r. stP6- B5f 

PR Coleridge, Sarouel Taylor 

44.76 Biographia literaria